By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
It had been a while since the Green Oaks Giants had experienced victory on the football field. Look up last year’s record and it will say 1-9, but that number in the win column came by forfeit.
Actually on the field, the Giants hadn’t tasted victory since Nov. 20, 2020.
So, of course, when that victory finally came, it was a special moment for Green Oaks coach Chadwick Lewis. But how the Giants got that win was even more special.
Standing at midfield of Leonard C. Barnes Stadium on Saturday night, Lewis proudly posed for pictures with the Soul Bowl trophy.
“We let them borrow it for a year,” Lewis said of the prize.
Green Oaks recaptured the trophy by defeating host Booker T. Washington 28-6 in the 40th annual playing of the Soul Bowl.
“We had to get it back,” said Fred’Travious Benjamin, who came up big on both offense and defense for Green Oaks. The 6-1, 170-pound senior wide receiver and defensive back had 22 of the Giants’ 44 receiving yards and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown.
It didn’t matter that both the Giants and Lions went into the contest with 0-2 records because this game was for more than just a team getting its first win of the season.
“This is a huge rivalry game between two very close-knit communities,” Lewis said prior to the game. “Winning this game can help get our season turned around and give us some confidence moving forward.”
The excitement was palpable long before the 5 p.m. kickoff with hundreds of fans tailgating. It continued afterward with a fireworks show.
If fans were looking for an offensive fireworks show during the game, they came to the wrong game. This one was all about defense.
The Giants scored four times in the first half, with three of those touchdowns coming from the Green Oaks defense.
Kashaun Green recovered a BTW fumble in the Lions’ end zone to put the Giants up 6-0 with 7:47 left in the first quarter. The Lions had taken over on their own 1-yard line after intercepting a Tovoras Lee pass at the goal line.
For the next 15 minutes, the two teams traded penalties and turnovers – there were seven in all (five fumbles lost and two interceptions). Then, with less than two minutes to go in the first half, Green Oaks scored on a 10-yard run by Toryun Ellis, a 14-yard scoop-and-score by Zachon Miller, and the 35-yard pick six by Benjamin. The only 2-point conversion of the night came on a pass from Lee to Benjamin.
Down 26-0 at the half, the Lions got on the board with a Damion O’Neal 17-yard touchdown run with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter. Green Oaks added a safety with three minutes left in the game.
“It was definitely a battle,” BTW coach Toni Reliford said. “And we came up short.”
The Lions were able to put up just 39 yards on the ground and 19 yards passing. Green Oaks got just 44 yards through the air and 140 on the ground – led by Ellis with 59 yards on 12 carries and 48 yards from Lee on 10 carries.
“It was everybody – defense, offense, special teams,” Lewis said of the victory. “There’s stuff we’ve got to clean up offensively, but this will jump start our season and get us to the playoffs.”
The only bad news for the Giants was the loss of Green, their star defensive lineman, who left in the first quarter with a knee injury and had to watch most of the game from the bench.
“I wanted to go back in so bad,” said Green, who expects to be back on the field when the Giants face Peabody next Friday night at Northwood.
The Lions open District 1-4A play against Woodlawn Friday night at Independence Stadium.
Contact Harriet at email@example.com
Green Oaks 28, BTW 6
Score by quarters
Green Oaks | 6 | 20 | 0 | 2 | – 28
BTW | 0 | 0 | 6 | 0 | – 6
GO – Kashaun Green fumble recovery in endzone (kick failed)
GO – Toryun Ellis 10 run (pass failed)
GO – Zachon Miller 14-yd fumble runback (Fred’Travious Benjamin pass from Tovoras Lee)
GO – Benjamin 35 interception return (pass failed)
BTW – Damion O’Neal 17 run (run failed)
GO — safety
Green Oaks (33-140), Toryun Ellis 12-59, Tovoras Lee 10-48, Delarrious Marshall 3-23, Christopher Hicks 5-17, Ethan Robinson 2-(-2), Brannon Shine 1-(-5).
BTW (23-39), Deaiviante Davis 8-20, Damion O’Neal 5-19, Kendrick Pratt 9-9, Le’Devin Jackson 1-(-9).
Green Oaks (7-17-1-44), Lee 7–16-1-44, Marshall 0-1-0.
BTW (4-8-1-19), Jackson 3-7-1-18, O’Neal 1-1-0-1.
Green Oaks, Marshall 4-15, Benjamin 2-22, Ellis 1-7.
BTW, De’Kerion Mitchell 3-12, Quentravious Moore 1-7.
Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports