SESSER — The atmosphere was certainly worthy of an IHSA football playoff game Saturday afternoon, and Greenville's Christian Moss put on a playoff-worthy performance as the senior rushed for 281 yards on 58 carries and four touchdowns to lead the Comets to a 39-20 victory in a Class 3A football contest against Sesser-Valier/Waltonville/Woodlawn.
Greenville improves to 8-2 and advances to the second round, while the Red Devils' season ends with two straight losses and an 8-2 record.
Greenville opened the game with a 13-play drive that consumed five minutes and 39 seconds off the clock. Moss — who rushed for more than 2,200 yards during the regular season — scored on a short 2-yard run. The kick was blocked and the Comets led, 6-0, with 6:21 left in the first quarter.
After a punt from S-V-W-W, Greenville marched down the field. Moss took the first snap 30-plus yards into Red Devil territory. The Comets faced a third-and-goal from the two.
Moss was stopped at the one. After a penalty pushed the Comets back to the six-yard line, Greenville put another touchdown on the board with 33 seconds left when a tipped pass in the air was brought down by Brandon Hamel.
Moss’s attempt at the two-point conversion failed as the Comets led 12-0 when the first quarter ended.
The Red Devils punted the ball again. However, the defense stepped up and forced a turnover to take over on the Comets’ 23-yard line.
S-V-W-W faced a fourth-and-10 and trailed by two touchdowns when quarterback Clayton Smith connected with Lukas Gunter for the Red Devils’ first touchdown with 6:59 left in the first half. The two-point conversion failed, and Greenville led, 12-6.
After the touchdown, Greenville used a pair of long third-down conversions to keep its drive going. One was quarterback Wil Harnetiaux finding Hamel wide open for the first down.
That set up Moss’s third touchdown in the first half when he scored from 12 yards away. The two-point try was successful and Greenville captured a 20-6 lead with 1:41 remaining.
Not to be satisfied with a 14-point deficit at the half, the Red Devils squeezed in a score from 60 yards on a pass from Smith to Gunter with 31 seconds left, cutting the deficit at the break to 20-12.
The Red Devils — who deferred the opening kickoff to the second half —went three-and-out to start the second half.
Moss's first touch of the second half was a 12-yard run. Greenville continued to put the football in the hands of Moss, and like all season, he delivered for the Comets.
Just when the Red Devils were committed to stopping Moss, Greenville went to the air as Harnetiaux’s pass to Hamel — who broke away from one-on-one coverage to score on a 63-yard touchdown pass — gave the Comets a 26-12 lead after a blocked extra point attempt.
Just as quickly as the Comets scored, the Red Devils turned the ball over when Smith was intercepted by Blake Doll.
Greenville continued its dominance in the running game, leading to Moss's one-yard touchdown run with 1:44 left in the third quarter as the Comets took advantage of the Red Devils' turnover to lead, 32-12.
In the fourth quarter, the Red Devils put a touchdown on the board along with a two-point conversion, to trail 32-20.
The Red Devils had a chance to again cut into the lead, but an incomplete pass turned the ball back over to the Comets.
From there the Moss show continued, and on his 58th carry of the game, he scored from two yards out for his fourth touchdown. The extra point kick was good to give the Comets a 39-20 lead with 2:23 left in the game.
The Red Devils were held to just 72 yards on the ground with Peyton Rock leading the way with 26 yards on six carries.
Smith passed for 200 yards on 8-for-16 with three touchdown passes and a pair of interceptions.