By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
As the final seconds ticked away, the reaction on the sideline and in the visitor section of the stands at Hunt Family Stadium signified more than just an early-season victory over an SPC rival.
Konnell Woods threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for two more scores as Greenhill defeated St. Mark’s 42-27 on Friday, earning its first win over the Lions since 2003.
“They’ve had our number for a long time,” said Greenhill head coach Tom Williams. “We haven’t beaten them in 13 years, so it was good for our team to get started this way with a good win.”
Woods and his speedy receiving corps dominated most of the first half. On Greenhill’s opening possession, Woods hit Xavier Bryant in stride across the middle for a 56-yard touchdown.
After an impressive goal-line stand, Greenhill (2-0) marched 98 yards down the field with Woods showing off his arm. He connected with his younger brother, Kassidy Woods, for two first-down completions, then found Bryson Houston in the corner of the end zone for a 13-0 lead.
“Our team speed is tough to match up with,” said Williams. “If we can get to the outside, to the edges, it’s very hard to defend.”
Greenhill took a 20-0 lead with 4:25 left in the first half when the elder Woods scored on a 2-yard scamper. Then St. Mark’s made it a game.
An interception gave the Lions favorable field position inside Greenhill’s 20-yard line. On second-and-long, Lions quarterback Canyon Kyle hooked up with Ryan Warner for a 12-yard touchdown strike.
With under a minute remaining before intermission, St. Mark’s (0-1) forced Greenhill to punt deep in its own territory. On first-and-goal with three seconds remaining, Kyle threw his second touchdown pass in two minutes, this time to wide receiver Seun Omonije to make the score 20-14.
“We grew as the game continued,” said St. Mark’s head coach Bart Epperson, “and showed some grit there with those two quick scores late at the end of the first half to keep it close.”
The Hornets scored two quick touchdowns of their own early in the third quarter and went up 35-14 on a 78-yard touchdown pass from Woods to Bryant.
Bryant finished with 210 yards on six catches while the younger Woods caught three passes for 105 yards.
“Both of those guys have the tools to play at the next level,” said Williams, now in his third season at Greenhill. “And I feel like we’re turning the corner here after a couple of disappointing seasons.”
Greenhill added to the lead on a 31-yard pass from Woods to Jaelen Harris on the last play of the third quarter.
Down 42-14 with just under eight minutes remaining, St. Mark’s scored two unanswered touchdowns to get within two scores, but without any timeouts left, the Lions were unable to stop the clock.
Kyle finished with 240 yards passing and four touchdowns.
“We are very young,” said Epperson. “Once we learn to eliminate some of these early-season mistakes, we’re going to be fine. There are plenty of things to build on from this game.”