GREENWOOD, S.C. — Make no mistake: Greenwood is eligible for the next round of the playoffs.
Kicker Matt McManis made sure of it.
The Eagles’ senior kicker nailed a 37-yard field goal with 15.3 seconds left to send Greenwood to the Class AAAA, Division II semifinals in a topsy-turvy 34-32 victory against North Augusta.
“I just don’t want to end it with these guys,” Greenwood coach Gene Cathcart said. “These are special kids.”
He’ll have at least another week with his team, but the Eagles cut it close.
After Greenwood (13-0) claimed its first lead of the second half at 31-25 on Octavious Morgan’s 25-yard run with 10:53 left, North Augusta (9-4) responded with an 11-play, 57-yard drive.
During the Yellow Jackets’ drive, they converted two fourth downs, none bigger than Logan Wooward’s 12-yard touchdown reception from Trib Reece on fourth-and-6 with 5:56 left.
Greenwood’s next drive stalled at the North Augusta 45, and Cathcart argued fervently for a face-mask penalty, drawing the ire of a sideline official and a 15-yard penalty.
“I’ve got to calm down in games,” Cathcart said. “This officiating crew I’ve had some previous encounters with, and I probably started us off on a bad foot with them.”
But North Augusta’s offense couldn’t finish the Eagles off despite the short field. Greenwood’s defense forced a punt from its 36, and set up for its final drive at the 17.
Tommy Turner completed a 12-yard pass to Aaron Broadwater for a first down, then connected on a short pass to Morgan that the junior wingback extended 19 yards to the Eagles’ 48.
After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Turner found Broadwater, a lanky 6-foot-4 senior, for a 31-yard reception, a jump ball that put the Eagles on the 21.
Four plays later, McManis kicked his field goal.
“Man, I’m going to have to do something for (McManis),” said senior wingback Larenzo Mathis, who rushed for a team-high 107 yards. “I’m going to kiss him. Where’s he at?”
Despite the loss, North Augusta put up numbers. DeVonte Pressley rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, while Reece completed 16 of 24 passes for 161, including nine in a row in the first half.
“I’m just proud of my guys,” said North Augusta coach Dan Pippin, who fought back tears. “Not too many people gave us a chance, and I thought we came in here and played well. ... I’ve got a great group of kids.”