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Junior High: Turnovers doom Alma in finale

<p>photo by GEORGE “CLAY” MITCHELL</p><p>Alma’s Drake Pendergraft (1) tries to break a tackle from Greenwood during Thursday’s River Valley Conference finale at Smith Robinson Stadium. Turnovers hindered the Airedale offense as Greenwood won 21-16.</p>

photo by GEORGE “CLAY” MITCHELL

Alma’s Drake Pendergraft (1) tries to break a tackle from Greenwood during Thursday’s River Valley Conference finale at Smith Robinson Stadium. Turnovers hindered the Airedale offense as Greenwood won 21-16.

Turnovers hindered Alma as Greenwood was able to survive a late run to win the River Valley Conference title Thursday night at Smith Robinson Stadium.

Greenwood led 21-0 with 3:22 remaining in the game when the Airedales stormed back to score twice in a span of 50 seconds, but the onside attempt came up short and the Bulldogs (8-1, 7-0) were able to run out the clock.

Alma (8-2, 5-2) had defeated Greenwood 28-20 at the start of the season. Alma’s only other loss was 27-20 to Ramsey. During that game the Airedales also suffered a number of turnovers and simply ran out of time.

“We just made too many mistakes to be able to beat a good team,” said Alma coach J.D. Coursey.

Alma finished runner-up in the River Valley Conference. The Van Buren Freshman Academy (1-9, 0-7) ended the season with a 22-6 loss at Shiloh Christian.

Both Alma turnovers were either converted into points or helped Greenwood gain good field position.

The Airedales began on their own 19 with 2:03 remaining in the first half and was able to reach the the Greenwood 23, but a fumble gave the Bulldogs the the ball back at the :35 mark. Two plays later quarterback Luke Hales hit Drew Dundee for a short pass, but Dundee broke a tackle and converted it to a 66-yard touchdown. Greenwood led 7-0 at the break.

The Bulldogs opened the second half converting a fourth-and-four for a 47-yard touchdown pass from Hales to Dundee.

Alma was marching back and got inside the Greenwood 20, but Dundee picked off Dotson’s pass at the Greenwood 4 and returned it to the 16.

Greenwood didn’t score on the ensuing possession when it failed to convert a fourth-and-12 from the Airedale 17. Alma gained just two yards and had to punt. The Bulldogs began the next drive the Airedale 38 following the 12-yard punt return.

Hales and Dundee carved up the defense and covered the remaining distance on two passes, including the 20-yard strike to give the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead with 3:22 remaining in the game.

Greenwood’s offense was propelled by Hales’ 11-of-15 passing for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Dundee hauled in six passes for 167 yards and three TDs.

Braxton Horne had 21 carries for Greenwood with 103 yards.

Noah Dotson led Alma with 283 yards. Dotson had 15 carries for 82 yards and he completed 8-of-16 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Dotson hit Drake Pendergraft for both scores, 19 yards and 68 yards.

The first score was with 2:12 left in the game. Alma’s defense finally forced Greenwood to punt after pinning the Bulldogs on a one-yard net gain. On the next play, Dotson hit Pendergraft for a short gain, but the receiver out raced several defenders for about 45 yards for the score.

Dotson threw a pair of two-point conversions, each to Pendergraft and Brayden Harris.

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