By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
In order to reach their program’s first state semifinal in 27 years, the Greenfield-Northwestern Tigers needed to play their best football game of the season. They did just that.
After narrowly avoiding a devestating upset against Casey-Westfield via a walkoff touchdown and two-point conversion at home, Greenfield-Northwestern was motivated to take full control and silence all of the doubters right out of the gate on the road at Sesser-Valier Nov. 11.
During a postseason game between North Mac and Fairfield in Virden last season, one radio broadcaster said, “We drove three hours for this game. We might as well win.” The Tigers had that same mindset having to travel two-and-a-half hours south to Sesser.
GF-NW put forth a mistake-free effort while forcing multiple opposing turnovers and dismantled the Red Devils, 44-16.
After falling behind 8-0 early, the Tigers seized command, scoring an unanswered touchdown on their first three trips down the field.
GF-NW only needed three minutes to tie the game at 8-8. The defense forced a quick ‘three and out’ and Drake Pembrook connected with Nathan Nord for a 21-yard touchdown to complete another quick scoring venture and put the Tigers ahead for good. Overall, Pembrook succeeded on 10 of 13 throws and racked up 121 yards through the air.
Pembrook then doubled the lead with another touchdown. This time, the senior quarterback beat the Devils with his legs as he broke free up the middle on a 34-yard scramble to the end zone to make it 22-8.
Sesser pulled back to within 22-16 via an 80-yard return. However, that moment of glory didn’t last long because Caleb Albrecht also took the football to the house for the Tigers on the ensuing kickoff.
Following another defensive stand that was fueled by a Kayden Roberts sack, power back Kohen Vetter ran the ball in for six. The Tigers led 36-16 at the intermission.
Vetter ultimately put the final nail in Sesser’s coffin on the first drive of the second half. The senior, who later contributed two additional touchdowns as part of a 126-yard performance, intercepted Devils’ quarterback Colt Packer near midfield to set up another GF-NW scoring drive.
Desperately in need of a quick score, Sesser sprinted to the Greenfield 34-yard line only to have GF-NW lineman Dane Chism jump a Packer route and return the second takeaway 61 yards inside the Sesser 10. Vetter carried the ball into the end zone three plays later.
Greenfield-Northwestern vs. Camp Point Central
The Tigers’ victory sets the stage for a highly-anticipated rematch with long-time WIVC rival Camp Point Central Sat., Nov. 18. Both teams enter the semifinals 12-0.
GF-NW looks to avenge a 24-12 loss it suffered against Camp Point in the third round of last year’s playoffs.
Game time is 2 p.m. at Camp Point.
The winner will meet either Lena-Winslow or Chicago Hope Academy in the IHSA 1A state championship game at Hancock Stadium in Normal Fri., Nov. 24.