ABILENE — After struggling on defense at times throughout the regular season, Godley showed progress on the defensive side of the ball down the stretch. And that defensive progression was on full display in the Wildcats’ 26-7 win over Midland Greenwood in the Class 4A Division II bi-district playoffs Friday at Abilene Christian University.

Godley (6-5) held Greenwood (5-6) to 262 yards from scrimmage and only 11 first downs as the Wildcat defense matched a season-best for points allowed in a game.

“Our defense played phenomenal,” Godley Coach Curtis Lowery said. “I was ecstatic about our defense. I’m happy for those kids that’s worked so hard and for our coaching staff that has done so well and just focused on getting better and better. We did a great job stopping the run and forcing [Greebwiid] to do something they’re not comfortable doing in passing the ball. I thought our secondary was good. Overall it was a great effort on defense, from the coaching staff with their game planning and the kids executing, everything was good.”

While the Wildcat defense shut down the Rangers, Godley’s offense was led — as it has been all season — by the offensive line and junior running back Landon Thigpen, who rushed for 262 yards with three total touchdowns.

Lowery said wins in the playoffs are hard to come by and every playoff win is special.

“It’s really special,” he said. “These kids have put a lot of hard work and effort in. That’s something I told them; that what we’ve accomplished so far isn’t easy. Since 1926, only 10 other teams here have won a playoff game. I’m really proud of them. Our goal is to be the best team we can possibly be and be the best team that’s ever come through here. They’re playing with a lot of confidence. The teams that move on are the teams that are playing for something bigger than themselves — and this group is. They want to be great.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Godley struck twice in the second quarter for a 14-0 halftime lead. Kole Allen connected with Drew Coleman for a 27-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead with 10:32 left in the second quarter. Then Thigpen capped off a long, time-consuming drive with a seven-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds remaining in the first half.

Greenwood made it a one-score game in the third quarter when Aaron Fikes broke one from 48 yards out to make it 14-7, and suddenly a game that Godley had dominated was only a play away from being tied. 

But Thigpen played the role of closer when he hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Allen on third-and-11 for a 20-7 advantage with 7:31 remaining and then Thigpen then sealed the deal with a 23-yard touchdown run with 2:58 to play for a 26-7 lead.

Lowery said he was proud of how his team responded after Greewnwood made it a one-score game.

“Our team has faced adversity all season,” Lowery said. “We went into the playoffs at 5-5. We’ve dealt with adversity. We’ve dealt with playing from behind and playing ahead. We’ve been in shootouts, we’ve been close games. They’ve done it all. I feel like they’re really seasoned and they are peaking at the right time as a team, overall with special teams, defense and offense. It was really good to see.”

Coleman rushed for 60 yards on eight carries with two catches for 34 yards and one pass for 39 yards.

Up next for Godley is an area showdown vs. Seminole (10-1). The Indians beat El Paso Mountain View, 78-13, in bi-district on Thursday. Seminole’s only loss this season was a 40-27 defeat against Shallowater (ranked No. 4 in 3A DI) on Sept. 2.

Godley and Seminole are scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff Thursday at McMurry University’s Wilford Moore Stadium in Abilene.

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