Alma head coach Doug Loughridge knew it would take more than magic to beat Greenwood.
Greenwood scored the final 47 points in the last three quarters and beat the Airedales for the ninth straight season, 47-7, on Friday.
Greenwood (2-0) upped the third-longest winning streak in Arkansas high school football history to 40 consecutive games.
"That’s what I told the kids this week, that you don’t just step out and magically beat Greenwood," Loughridge said. "You’re going to have to play perfect in all three phases of the game and we did not play perfect in any phase of the game."
Alma stunned the Bulldogs early with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Evan Burris to Alex Burris on the game’s opening possession. The Airedales converted a fourth-and-inches after Greenwood jumped offsides when Alma was in punt formation. Burris was wide open down the left sideline, which put Alma up with 8:10 left.
"We established the line of scrimmage the first drive and hit them in the mouth," Loughridge said. "After that, I don’t know what happened. They stepped up their game and we stepped back. They’re a great football team."
Alma’s defense also was primed early and stopped Greenwood on fourth down on the Bulldogs’ first two possessions.
"They did what they could do," Greenwood head coach Rick Jones said. "They executed well early. It was frustrating getting stopped on fourth down twice in the first half. I give all of credit to their staff and their kids, they played really hard and they competed."
Greenwood, which had just 42 yards on two first-quarter possessions, took control after that.
Quarterback Jabe Burgess, a surprise starter for the Bulldogs, threw touchdown passes on three consecutive second-quarter possessions for a comfortable 21-7 halftime cushion. Burgess broke a bone in his foot in late July and missed last week’s season opener against Sallisaw. He was cleared to play just hours before kickoff.
"We have a quarterbacks meeting three hours before the game and coach Jones let me know then," Burgess said. "I felt ready to go and was cleared this morning. Coach Jones gave me the nod three hours before the game. I felt great. I felt like we were rolling great."
Burgess finished 15-of-26 for 179 yards and three touchdowns. His appearance didn’t surprise the Airedales.
"‘We planned on him all week," Loughridge said. "We figured he was going to play. He’s the guy that makes them go. Why would he want to miss this game his senior year? We weren’t surprised. We prepared for him."
Burgess zipped a 19-yard scoring pass to Grant Morgan in between Alma defenders in the end zone three plays into the second quarter to tie the game.
Following Nathan Pierce’s interception, Burgess hit Morgan again down the middle of the field for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 7:27 left in the half.
"We were able to get some big plays and convert off turnovers," Jones said. "That was really the difference."
After a punt, Burgess capped a six-play drive, 65-yard drive — the longest of Greenwood’s first-half touchdown drives — with a 16-yard pass to Baylee Moore in the back of the end zone for a 21-7 lead.
Greenwood’s defense completed stifled Alma in the second half by allowing just 43 yards and two first downs, one of which was on a penalty.
"They converted some third downs on us in the first quarter," Jones said. "Our defensive guys did a good job of adjusting to what they were doing. That makes a huge difference when you can get some turnovers. We were able to take advantage of some short fields."
After misfiring on their first possession of the second half, the Bulldogs capped four straight series with touchdowns to invoke the Arkansas Activities Association’s mercy rule.