In both halves, Greencastle overcame slow starts and held the Clovers without any more scores for the rest of the half. The Tiger Cubs defeated the Clovers 31-16 to move to 2-5 (1-4 WCC) for the season. The Clovers fell to 3-4 (1-4 WCC).
Greencastle coach Mike Meyer said the key for his team was "just hanging in there." In each half, they let the game come to them and retook control.
"I don't know what it is there, but coming out we kind of stumble-bum around, and that lets them back into it," Meyer said. "We did some good things. We made some mistakes, but the kids played hard and that's all you can ask."
The Clovers got off to about the best start a team can ask for.
The Tiger Cubs mishandled the opening kickoff, getting only to the 9-yard line. Then they fumbled on the very first play from scrimmage.
Cloverdale took over with first-and-goal from the two-yard line. Aaron Dayhuff plunged into the end zone on the first play. Zach McCallie then ran it in to make it 8-0 with just 21 seconds played.
The rest of the quarter slowed down considerably. Greencastle turned the ball over on downs and Cloverdale punted.
The Tiger Cubs mounted their first scoring drive late in the first half. Running with seniors Drew Evens and Kendall Faust, they also mixed in some passes from quarterback Graham Shuee, who had his best passing night of the season. Shuee completed his first five passes on his way to going 9-for-14 for 110 yards.
"I was very, very happy with Graham," Meyer said. "He made some crucial throws and some big plays. They gave us some things, and we took it. The thing is, Graham would've had a better day if we hadn't dropped two balls. We had two big plays that we dropped."
The drive carried the Tiger Cubs into the second quarter, in which Evens found the end zone from one yard out with 11:17 remaining. A Buzz Deer kick cut the Clovers' lead to 8-7.
Greencastle's next possession was a quick one. On the first play, Shuee found Ashton Marshall for 34 yards to set the Cubs up at the Cloverdale 17.
Three plays later, Evens found scored his second touchdown, this time from the seven. Deer gave GHS a 14-6 lead.
The half ended with Greencastle holding the 14-6 lead.
In the second, Cloverdale started strong again. The Clovers began with a big dose of their running attack, rushing on eight consecutive plays. Then freshman quarterback Jordan Hayden found Zach McCallie, whom he had replaced under center, for a 50-yard completion.
Four plays later, Dayhuff got his second one-yard touchdown of the evening. A Dillin Gray two-point conversion put the Clovers back in the lead at 16-14 with 5:16 to go in the quarter.
The Tiger Cubs answered quickly this time. Six runs and two more Shuee completions later, GHS had regained the lead. Deer's kick made it 21-16.
For the remainder of the evening, Cloverdale's offense was able to move the ball in small stretches, but each time penalties or a turnover would do them in.
The Clovers had nine illegal procedure penalties for 45 yards on the night.
"We practice going on different snap counts," said Clovers coach Kyle Winkler. "We practice running different plays based on defensive alignment. We just have guys who, when the pressure hits them, they can't handle it. A lot of it has to do with not being strong enough, so they think they have to move before their man gets in their gap."
Asked what he thought of how his team looked in the second half besides the mistakes, Winkler said they had given him what he expected.
"It looked like in practice. We say, 'Run this play,' and, boom, we go, everybody blocks and does their job, and we look good," he said. "We get five or six yards a carry when everybody does their job."
"It's mental mistakes and then a botched snap there at the end did us in right then and there," Winkler continued.
The botched snap came on a punt in the third play of the final quarter and was followed quickly by a GHS touchdown.
After taking over first-and-ten from the Clover 19-yard line, the Cubs punched it in on another Faust run. Deer made it 28-16.
Down two scores, the Clovers had three penalties in their next six snaps. Then, Hayden fumbled on a GHS sack. Blake Robinson recovered.
The Tiger Cubs punted the ball back to the Clovers, who then turned it over on downs at their own 29.
Five plays later, Deer closed out the scoring at 31-16 with a 28-yard field goal.
Winkler said the mental mistakes were all that did his team in.
"It takes 11 players mentally focused to do their job," Winkler said. "Sometimes we get linemen who jumps offsides. We get a back who cuts it up on motion, so it's a penalty again. It's just mental mistakes that are beating Cloverdale football."
Meyer was happy with the whole team, especially the seniors who won their last home game.
"I thought it was a great game for our seniors," Meyer said. "They got to win their last home game, so we're real happy about that. Kendall had a nice night. I thought all the guys did a heck of a job up front blocking.
"We're a team that's trying to find its identity and get where it needs to go," he continued. "We just have to keep hanging in there. We've got another big one coming up with Cascade."
The Tiger Cubs travel to face the Cadets at 7 p.m. next Friday. Cloverdale will host Owen Valley at 7 p.m. next Friday.
Cloverdale 8 0 8 0 -- 16
Greencastle 0 14 7 10 -- 31
Cloverdale -- Dayhuff 1 run (McCallie run good) 11:39
Greencastle -- Evens 1 run (Deer kick good) 11:17
Greencastle -- Evens 7 run (Deer kick good) 7:22
Cloverdale -- Dayhuff 1 run (Gray run good) 5:16
Greencastle -- Faust 4 run (Deer kick good) 1:52
Greencastle -- Faust 4 run (Deer kick good) 8:46
Greencastle -- Deer 28 FG 2:28
First downs -- Cloverdale 9, Greencastle 15
Fumbles-lost -- Cloverdale 3-2, Greencastle 2-1
Penalties-yards -- Cloverdale 9-45, Greencastle 4-45
Cloverdale (3-4, 1-4 WCC):
Rushing -- (28 carries, 133 yards) -- Gray 19-75, Dayhuff 8-44, Boller 4-3, McCallie 2-14, Spinks 2-3, Osburn 1-2, Dean 1-(-1), Hayden1-(-3)
Passing -- (5-14-0-0 58 yards) -- Hayden 5-13-0-0 58 yards, McCallie 0-0 0 yards
Receiving -- (5 catches, 58 yards) -- McCallie 1-50, Gray 1-11, Boller 1-6, Spinks 1-(-4), Dayhuff 1-(-5)
Greencastle (2-5, 1-4 WCC):
Rushing -- (37 carries, 173 yards) -- Evens 24-11, Faust 11-58, Shuee 2-10, Birt 1-(-1)
Passing -- (9-14-0-0 110 yards) -- Shuee 9-14-0-0 110 yards
Receiving -- (9 catches, 110 yards) -- Birt 6-40, Marshall 1-34, Evens 1-25, Nobles 1-11
Next game -- Cloverdale hosts Owen Valley at 7 p.m. next Friday. Greencastle visits WCC foe Cascade at 7 p.m. next Friday.