LAURENS SC – The No. 2 ranked Greenwood Eagles defense pitched a shutout in the second half and the Eagles captured their third consecutive Region I-4A title, knocking off the Laurens Raiders 24-7 Friday night at K.C. Hanna Stadium.
After the Eagles defense forced a three and out, senior wing back Lorenzo Mathis broke loose for 57 yard touchdown run, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead. Mathis would finish the night with 131 rushing yards and a touchdown on just seven carries.
“I have been battling some injuring this year,” Mathis said. “It felt good to be able to come out tonight and have a big game and help my team win a Region Championship.”
Greenwood Head Coach Gene Cathcart was pleased with the North-South All-Star selection’s performance.
“Lo (Mathis) is still not 100 percent,” Cathcart said. “At this time of year your big guns have to show up and play well. That is exactly what he (Mathis) did tonight.”
With the visiting Eagles facing a third and ten from their own one yard line, the Raiders’ defense picked off Evan Sims at the Greenwood thirty yard line. Roderick Talley scored from 15 yards out, knotting the score at seven. Aaron Broadwater would give the Eagles a 14-7 lead with two minutes left in the second quarter on a 28-yard touchdown reception from Sims.
On the ensuing possession, Eagles safety Michael Davis would return an interception 38 yards down to the Raiders’ 4-yard line. The Eagles would settle for a Matthew McManus 21-yard field goal, giving the Eagles a 17-7 halftime lead.
With 8:51 left in the fourth quarter, Sims would put the game out of reach with a 2 yard touchdown run, swelling the lead to 24-7. It was his 18th score of the season. With the lead, the Eagles ensured home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They are hoping to make their third consecutive Division II, 4A State Championship Game appearance. With the win, the Eagles finished the regular season with an 11-0 record, the first perfect regular season for Greenwood since 1990.
“It’s great to win,” Sims said. “That’s not our ultimate goal though. We have been to state the past two years and didn’t get the job done. Our ultimate goal is to get back to state and win it all this year.”