By Justin Peterson
CLEMSON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It was a critical blocked punt in the fourth quarter. Many in attendance felt the momentum shift as Goose Creek supporters screamed and chanted for their team.
Goose Creek defeated Greenwood 37-21 on Saturday to claim the 2011 4A Division II state football championship.
The two teams met on Saturday at high-noon in Death Valley, each with only one loss. Each whose one loss came to a top-ranked out of state opponent.
The hard-fought matchup saw the Greenwood Eagles scoring first on a well-executed 18-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Jackson Miles.
But Goose Creek answered on the next when possession, when the Gators marched the ball right down the field and eventually into the endzone on the legs of their bruiser of a senior running back, Virgil Smalls.
The next Gator to see the endzone was Tramel Terry on a 6-yard TD run early in the second quarter. It gave the Gators a short-lived lead, 14-7.
Greenwood responded in the final moments of the first half on a 27-yard pass from Jackson Miles to Spearman Robinson.
The first half ended at 14-14.
In the second half, the slug fest between the two teams continued, and once again it was Greenwood who struck first.
The Eagles regained the lead with a 1-yard TD run from Kevon Harrison, making the score 21-14.
With 57 seconds left in the third quarter, more hard-nosed running from Virgil Smalls paved the way for the Gators to tie things up. Smalls reached the endzone on another tough 1-yard run.
On Greenwood's next series, a costly blocked punt sent the football flying threw the endzone -- resulting in safety and a 2-point Gator lead.
At that point Memorial Stadium echoed with the chants of "GOOSE CREEK... GATORS."
Goose Creek capitalized on the momentum.
On the next possession, Goose Creek scored again on another 1-yard TD run from Virgil Smalls.
The final score of the game came with 5:13 left to play when Goose Creek's Tramel Terry scored on a 31-yard run, to solidify the victory for Goose Creek.
When Goose Creek head coach Chuck Reedy took over the Gators' football program 10 years ago, they were 0-11. Now, they're champions.
"It's the culmination of everything we have preached fro 10 years," Reedy said. "I told them today, 'We have taught for 10 years. Play tough, physical, hard-nosed and with great effort for 48 minutes. If you do that we will win the football game.'"
The Gators' star offensive player on the day was Smalls, who led the offensive attack with three touchdowns and 117 rushing yards.
"These 4 years have been tough," Smalls said. "The last two years we kinda stumbled on ourselves in the third round, but this year we conquered that and came to state and we came out on top. To finish out senior year coming out on top and going to the Shrine Bowl in the same year, can't ask for nothing better."
Following the game Coach Reedy gave credit to the Goose Creek fans who made the 4-hour trip to see the game. He said there were just as many Gator fans in attendance as Greenwood fans. Greenwood is just an hour away from Memorial Stadium.
"I think that says something for our community and what this football team has done to bring them together," Reedy said.
When Smalls was asked to sum up the whole experience of winning state, he respectfully said, "It's nothing, but thank the man above."