GREENVILLE - On Friday, August 31 the Greenville Lions faced the Princeton Panthers at Greenville’s T.A. Cotton Stadium. The Lions fought well, but eventually fell to the Panthers 33-13.
Game time was 7:30, and at kickoff there were sunny skies over T.A. Cotton Stadium with a temperature of 96 degrees.
The Greenville Lions, in red uniforms with white stripes, won the toss, but deferred to Princeton, in white uniforms with maroon shoulders, who received to start the game.
The Panthers’ David McKenzie returned the initial kickoff for 15 yards, but there was an off-sides penalty on Greenville, causing a re-kick by Kellen Cox. With the re-kick, McKenzie again received the ball and returned it to the 50.
In the Panthers’ first possession, quarterback Jourdan Blake rushed for 5 yards, then passed it to Jelani Dillard for 10 yards, though an off sides penalty on the Panthers brought the ball back.
In the 2nd attempt at on second down, Blake threw to McKenzie for 52 yards. Payton Thomas ran the ball twice on the goal line, and punched it in for the first score. After the missed extra point, it was 6-0 Panthers with 9:54 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers decided to be tricky, and kicked an onside kick. They muffed it, however, and it tumbled harmlessly out of bounds, giving possession to the Lions.
Princeton lined up off sides, and Greenville started their drive with a short field. However, on first down, Greenville’s Jamar Clark lost the 5 yards Greenville had gained. On second down quarterback Matt Riskey threw an incomplete pass, and on third down Riskey completed his pass to Clark for 30 yards.
On first down Clark rushed for another loss, and though Riskey completed his pass to Cipriano Gonzales on second down, third down brought another incompletion from Riskey, and Marquist Davis punted into the end zone.
In the second possession for the Panthers, Blake passed to McKenzie, rushed a few times, pitched the ball to CJ Bryant, and then got sacked, ending the drive with a Dillard punt.
The second Greenville drive also ended with a punt, though Clark gained a few yards.
Bryant gained a first down on the third Panther drive, but Blake threw a few incomplete passes, and another punt was fired for 47 yards, and returned 10 yards by Payton Thompson.
The Lions started their third possession with a 9 yard rush, and Riskey added a few good rushes himself before throwing to Michael Hernandez for a touchdown, tying the score at 6.
The Panthers came right back and drove down the field, with Blake passing the ball to Thomas and handing off to Bryant. Blake lost the ball on second down but recovered it, and then the Panthers scored on a fake punt pass from Thomas to Dillard. The extra point was missed again, and the score with 7:30 left in the half was 12-6 Princeton.
The next Lion drive was characterized by poor execution on both sides, with an illegal procedure call on Greenville and an off sides call on the Panthers. The Lions punted again.
The Panthers and the Lions exchanged punts, with Greenville’s punt going only 16 yards, setting up the next Princeton drive close to the end zone.
The Panthers used just three plays to make the 18 yards to the end zone, with Bryant running in from 1 yard away, and then the Panthers converted the 2 point conversion, making the score 20-6 with just 24 seconds left in the half.
The second half started with a bang as Lions return man Marquist Davis returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was good, and the score was 20-13 with 11:46 left in the 3rd.
The Panthers struck back though, with Blake distributing the ball to Bryant, McKenzie, and Thomas, and Blake himself rumbling in for the 1 yard score. They got their extra point, and with 6:09 left in the 3rd, it was 27-13 Princeton.
The Lions would try to answer, but Riskey would fumble the ball on 3rd down, and it would be returned 25 yards for another Panthers touchdown. The Panthers were now up 33-13, and would maintain that 20 point advantage for the rest of the game.
The Lions would get two more chances to try to score on the Panthers, but on the second to last drive they would turn the ball over on downs, and the last drive Riskey would fumble again, Trey Jackson recovering for the Panthers.
Blake was intercepted on their second to last drive, but again the Lions wouldn’t capitalize, punting the ball after 3 plays. The Panthers would kneel twice and win the game.
Blake: 10-19, 142 yards, 1 int.
Thomas: 1-1, 37 yards, 1 td.
Riskey: 4-9, 66 yards, 1td.
Blake: 18 yards
Bryant: 147 yards, 2 tds
Thomas: 2 yards, 1 td
Clark: 18 yds, 1 fum
Riskey: 46 yds, 2 fum
Hamilton: 44 yds, 1 td
Matthews: -2 yds
Davis: 17 yds
Dillard: 48 yds, 1 td
McKenzie: 68 yds
Thomas: 22 yds
Bryant: 18 yds
Clark: 30 yds
Gonzalez: 3 yds
Hernandez: 16, 1 td
Greenville Captains: Eric Hughes, Neftali Vargas, Kyle Crumpton, D. J. Mayes
Princeton Captains: Trenton Williams, Taylor Jones, Frankie Peters
Greenville: 0-21 streak over the past three seasons
Princeton: Logan Teel ejected for a late hit in the 4th quarter.