ELLETTSVILLE -- If a team has to go on the road to play a football game in near mid-summer conditions in September, the only thing that's going to make them feel good is a win. Greencastle got that win, moving to 3-0 on the season after knocking off Edgewood 33-20 Friday night.
It was a rough and tumble start for the visitors. After a quick three and out, Greencastle was forced to punt the opening possession of the game away, only to see a high snap not allow Hayden Stuckwisch to get the punt away or collect a first down.
The Mustangs needed only three plays to capitalize, scoring when Grant Pedersen went on a QB sneak to give the hosts an early 7-0 lead. Greencastle almost replied immediately after the kick off. A screen pass from Nick Gilliam to Nate Christy went the distance only to be wiped out by a block in the back.
Derrick Lenihan would instead be the man, as he took six consecutive handoffs to eat up 38 yards before plunging in from three yards away to level the scores at 7-all.
Edgewood was unlucky to not retake the lead when kicker Derrick Driver narrowly missed outside the left upright from 52 yards away. The miss allowed Greencastle to take the lead in two plays. Gilliam hit Ryan Battin for 78 yards on the next snap, allowing Christy to get his score on the next play. The missed extra point moved Greencastle into a 13-7 lead.
That lead lasted all of two minutes as Edgewood got a great kickoff return. Inside Greencastle territory, it took the Mustangs five plays before Pedersen drilled Cameron Walls with a 22 yard strike to give the Mustangs a 14-13 lead.
Though the visitors lost a fumble on their next possession, they were still able to reclaim the lead later in the second quarter. Another Lenihan-heavy drive saw the senior carry the ball six times, eventually plunging in from six yards out to put the Tiger Cubs back up 20-14.
And before the half ended, Greencastle extended its lead. Edgewood was stopped on the Tiger Cub six yard line after a turnover on down with just over a minute to go. Two Lenihan runs preceded Gilliam's 76 yard touchdown pass to Battin, giving the visitors a 27-14 lead once a Stuckwisch interception ended the half.
Both defenses stiffened in the second half. Greencastle forced a punt, a turnover on downs and three turnovers before a late consolation score as Pedersen slipped a screen to James Ridge for a 45 yard score.
By then, the Tiger Cubs had done their final bit of work as Lenihan picked up his third touchdown of the contest with a 45 yard run to seal the deal late in the fourth quarter.
While not always pretty at times, the win made it three for three for the Tiger Cubs, and for head coach Josh Buis, it was the grinding of the running game that got the Tiger Cubs through.
"We want to run the ball. Our big guys up front did a great job of allowing us to do that. We wanted to chew up the clock, keep the defense off the field," Buis said. "They've got a lot of great athletes over there. We tried to keep our defense fresh, run the ball behind the offensive line and our running backs did a good job of getting us first downs tonight."
Edgewood had their full complement of backs and receivers available for the first time Friday night, and Buis said that had an influence on the early part of the game.
"They have so many different weapons they can go to. We had to sit back and play coverage because they did spread it out. Sometimes, that left us only five or six in the box to stop their outside veer run," Buis said.
"Our defensive ends struggled a little bit taking the quarterback early. A couple times we didn't do very well on our assignments but overall I thought our defense did a great job of containing their athletes."
To keep the game where they wanted it, the Tiger Cubs used offense as a form of defense.
"We kept their defense out on the field. With our offensive line and running backs, we were able to chew up a lot of clock. What that forced them to do was throw the football," Buis said. "When they have to throw the football, you can sit back and play coverage. Coach (John) Perkins did a good job tonight of calling the coverages."
Greencastle hosts Triton Central next Friday and for Buis, more of the same offense is required.
"Triton Central's a good football team. I know they have a new head coach and he's done a great job of getting those kids prepared for this season. Like this game, not all the games are going to be pretty," Buis said. "We have to come out next Friday ready to play. I love running the ball with this offensive line and Derrick (Lenihan) we get the safeties to move up, and then it's time to take shots. But we will have to run the football to win next Friday."
Greencastle 13 14 0 6 -- 33
Edgewood 7 7 0 6 -- 20
E -- 8:20 Pederson 1-yard run (Driver kick) 7-0
GHS -- 5:01 Lenihan 3-yard run (Stuckwisch kick) 7-7
GHS -- 0:52 Christy 1-yard run (XP no good) 7-13
E -- 11:04 Pedersen 22-yard pass to Walls (Driver kick) 14-13
GHS -- 3:37 Lenihan 6-yard run (Stuckwisch kick) 14-20
GHS -- 0:17 Gilliam 76-yard pass to Battin (Stuckwisch kick) 14-27
GHS -- 5:23 Lenihan 45-yard run (XP no good) 14-33
E -- 1:14 Pedersen 45-yard pass to Ridge (XP no good) 20-33
Greencastle 476; Edgewood 373
Greencastle -- Lenihan 28-203, 3 TDs, Christy 3-9, TD, Gilliam 3-(-1), Shuee 2-3, Battin 1-5
Edgewood -- Delos Santos 15-71, Pedersen 12-93, TD, Mabry 5-5
Passing & Receiving
Greencastle -- Gilliam 7-11-257, TD; Battin 2-156, TD, Shuee 2-16, Lenihan 1-36, Stuckwisch 1-32, Hutcheson 1-19
Edgewood -- Pedersen 6-17-140-2 TD-2 INT; Ridge 1-1-64; Ridge 4-89, TD, Walls 2-86, TD, Driver 1-7
Greencastle 11-95; Edgewood 5-31
Greencastle 2 (2 Fumbles); Edgewood 3 (2 INT, Fumble)
Greencastle 13; Edgewood 13
Next game -- Greencastle hosts Triton Central next Friday.