The last two weeks of Creek Wood’s football season came down to two basic options. If the Red Hawks beat Kenwood, their regular-season finale against Clarksville Northwest would likely be a win-or-go-home game for a playoff spot. If the Knights prevailed, then Creek Wood’s home finale would simply be to send off the seniors and to build momentum for 2016. Kenwood managed 350 yards rushing and six touchdowns by one player, but the Red Hawks very nearly pulled the upset anyway. However, the Knights held on, and the clock struck midnight on Creek Wood’s playoff chances.
Rather than knowing the season was over and playing to put the bad memory behind them or knowing the final game was an early playoff game, the Red Hawks welcomed the Vikings in the worst possible scenario–Creek Wood knew it had barely missed the playoffs, while Northwest needed a win and help to make it themselves. As a result, Northwest was inspired, while the home team started a little flat and ended up frustrated; Northwest took the win 28-0 to end Creek Wood’s season.
Four of the first five drives of the game ended in punts, as the evenly matched sides struggled for field position. Northwest found success on the third drive of the game, however, driving the ball 86 yards and scoring on a 9 yard run by Desmond Daniels to make it 7-0 Vikings with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
Creek Wood lost star wide receiver Jonathan McCloud in the first half to an injury, which changed the offensive gameplan. However, after forcing Northwest to punt early in the second quarter, the Red Hawks fumbled the ball away and set up Northwest near mid field. Viking quarterback Micah Bennett struggled finding the mesh point with his running backs all night, but at least once it led to a good thing–he missed the handoff running right and inadvertently ran a counter play himself, busting free to the left for 33 yards and a touchdown. Northwest led 14-0 with just over 8 minutes left in the first half.
Northwest forced Creek Wood to punt on the ensuing drive, and the Vikings drove the field again. Bennett completed just two passes on the night, but one of them ended that drive late in the first half as he found Zach Dixon for an 11 yard score. At the end of the first half, Northwest led 21-0, and the Senior Night/Pinkout Night crowd for the Red Hawks was stunned and restless.
After halftime, Creek Wood got the ball first, but punted. Northwest used up 2 minutes, but punted as well, and the Red Hawks got great field position at the Northwest 47. Quarterback Peyton Gibbs and running back Quinton Poole drove the ball down the field, but down three scores the Red Hawks had to find the end zone. Instead, Northwest stopped the home side on fourth down at the one yard line to get the ball back, and ultimately punted to try to flip the field. That strategy didn’t work, as Creek Wood started that drive in plus territory as well. Unfortunately, the Red Hawks fumbled again, and Northwest recovered again. Senior Jahnal Browne put the game out of reach with an 11 yard score, to make it 28-0 early in the fourth.
Creek Wood fought and clawed, even recovering a fumbled punt return in the fourth, but tempers got hotter in the second half as well. The Red Hawks managed 10 first downs on the day, but the offense struggled overall, without any plays longer than a 24 yard pass from Gibbs to Trevor Sinks in the second half. After a hot start passing the football, Gibbs and his receivers struggled in the second half playing catch-up without their top target, and the quarterback finished 6-of-15. Poole had the bulk of the carries and was leaned on heavily in the second half, but the Northwest run stoppers kept him mostly bottled up; the lightning quick runner had a long of 12 on the day. Senior lineman Brenden Dickens took home MVP honors for Creek Wood, however, anchoring the center position as usual and having a standout day as a backup noseguard as well.
Creek Wood finished the year 3-7, 0-5 in Region 6-4A. The 3 wins came over opponents with a combined 9-21 record, though the first win was over a Fairview team that finished 7-3 and is going to the playoffs. Creek Wood nearly beat Kenwood while losing to Lipscomb Academy 35-7; however the Knights upended Lipscomb Academy 26-24 to claim the top spot in the Region, with Hillwood (which the Red Hawks lost to 28-24) taking the third place spot. If Montgomery Central had beaten the Hilltoppers, Northwest would have propelled itself into the last playoff spot. However, Hillwood held serve and won by 5, keeping the Indians in and the Vikings out despite the shutout.
Central travels to historic Pearl-Cohn in Nashville on Friday night to open the playoffs. The 6-4 Firebirds have never played the Indians, but they are 1-4 in non-region games this season. Hillwood travels to 7-3 Springfield for another first-time matchup; the Yellowjackets beat 6-4A champ Kenwood 36-6 earlier this season. Lipscomb Academy hosts 3-7 Maplewood, which has lost 2 straight games to the Mustangs but won the other 5 games in the series. And Kenwood hosts 4-6 Portland which is 1-4 in the series, but beat the Knights 21-19 in the last meeting back in 2008.