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Byrd goes over 1,000 yards as Greenfield thumps Mahar

  • Greenfield's RJ Byrd (22) toppled the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season Friday night in the Wave’s 36-12 victory over Mahar at Vets Field. Staff/Dan Little



Staff Writer
Friday, October 12, 2018

GREENFIELD — It’s hard to top the first half RJ Byrd put together Friday night.

The Greenfield High School senior tailback broke free for touchdowns of 94, 60 and 49 yards — all before intermission — and he cruised past the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season to lift the Green Wave to a 36-12 victory over Mahar Regional School in an Intercounty League North contest at Veterans Memorial Field.

The win was the third in a row for the Wave, who improved to 4-2 overall, 3-2 in the IL North.

Byrd finished with 271 yards on 21 carries and three scores. A healthy 239 of those yards came before halftime, and he toppled the 1,000-yard mark with a 6-yard carry late in the third quarter.

“It’s a credit to RJ. He worked hard in the offseason,” began Greenfield coach Mike Kuchieski of his star tailback, who entered Friday’s game with 745 yards through five games. “The guys up front opened some seams and he found them.”

Byrd’s first score of the night came on a 49-yarder in the game’s opening drive to stake Greenfield to an 8-0 lead.

After Mahar (0-6, 0-5) marched down to the Greenfield 6 on its first possession but was stopped on downs, Byrd wasn’t no time doubling the advantage. The hulking back shook off one tackler and got outside, using his speed to make it to the sideline for a 94-yard touchdown scamper that gave the hosts a 16-0 lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter.

“You try and see teams’ tendencies on film and we caught them with what we thought was going to be a good play,” Kuchieski said. “He broke a tackle and got up the sidelines.”

The Senators moved the ball at times throughout the game however, and they cashed in thanks to a turnover midway through the second quarter. Charlie Barnes intercepted an Owen Phelps pass and returned it 43 yards to the Greenfield 23. Four plays later, Jon Gariepy (15 carries, 112 yards) bulled in up the middle for a 5-yard touchdown that got the visitors within 16-6.

Byrd wasn’t done, however. On the ensuing Greenfield drive, he grabbed a handoff from Phelps out of the shotgun and took it 60 yards for a score. The Green Wave added one more touchdown before the half, when Phelps connected with his favorite target, Danny Vega, for a 36-yard score to give Greenfield a 28-6 halftime advantage.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Wave put things away with a defensive touchdown — the team’s second in as many weeks. Hunter Campbell snagged an interception off a pass from Noaha Chabot and ran it back 35 yards for a touchdown to give Greenfield a 36-6 lead with 4:19 to play.

To its credit, Mahar continued to fight. The visitors scored another touchdown in the waning minutes, when Gariepy got loose for a 52-yarder with 2:40 remaining to account for the 36-12 final.

Lucas Seney rushed for 70 yards on 12 carries for the Senators, while Jacob Tenney caught a 49-yard pass on the game’s final play from Aydan Sevigny. Barnes (23 yards) and Gariepy (17) each had a reception.

Phelps finished 3-for-7 for 71 yards, a touchdown and two interception for the Wave. Nate Haselton caught a pass for 16 yards and also rushed for 20 yards on six carries. Vega had two catches for 55 yards and a score.