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INDEPENDENCE – Grayson County was favored by three touchdowns to beat Rural Retreat last Friday night but the Blue Devils actually had to come from behind before turning the game into a blowout and claiming the 48-19 nondistrict victory at Bill Strong Field.
The Blue Devils had the first chance after advancing the kickoff to their own 31. They failed to move the ball and were forced to punt.
The Indians returned the punt to their own 26 and, aided by a facemask penalty, they marched the ball downfield with ease before Jay Linkous ended the drive with a 7-yard touchdown drive. The extra point kick was good for a 7-0 lead.
The early Indian score only infuriated the Blue Devil offense. John Bilbrey took the kickoff after the touchdown and diced his way through several Rural Retreat defenders before he was dragged down at the Indian 40.
Two running plays were good for three yards and quarterback Max Rodgers dropped back to pass and connected with brother Mikey for a 37-yard touchdown. Mario Ruiz kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7 with 5:11 to play in the period.
Little did the Indians know that the Rodgers to Rodgers combination would dominate the game.
The Indians failed to move the ball and were forced to punt. Mikey Rodgers got a good return to the Blue Devil 25. Brother Max broke outside on the next play and rambled to the Rural Retreat 39.
It was Rodgers time again as Max hit Mikey on a 39-yard touchdown strike. Ruiz kicked the extra point to give the Blue Devils the lead for what turned out to be for good.
The Blue Devils caught the Indians napping and recovered an onsides kick at the Indian 33. Max Rodgers capped the drive on a 3-yard touchdown run. Ruiz hit the extra point for a 21-7 lead.
Lucas Rudy set up another Blue Devil drive when he intercepted Indian quarterback J.B. Wright. Aided by a personal foul penalty on the Indians, Jarel Smith almost ended the drive but was stopped a foot short of the end zone. Max Rodgers scored on a 1-yard run and a Ruiz kick gave the Blue Devils a 28-7 lead.
The Indians got on the scoreboard again when Tyler Caudill punched the ball in from 13 yards out. The Indians lined up to kick the extra point but instead, tried a pass. Rudy took care of the passer as he dropped him behind the line of scrimmage for a 28-13 deficit.
The Indians were driving again with time running out when they tried a field goal that was missed wide left to end the half.
The Indians put together a good drive to open the third quarter but the Blue Devil defense stiffened, bringing up a fourth down when Clint Bourne recovered a lateral to end the threat.
Mikey Rodgers scored another touchdown on an 18-yard pass from brother Max but the extra point was wide for a 34-13 lead.
Smith broke the string of touchdowns by the Rodgers brothers with 2:47 to play in the third when he found a hole in the Indian defense and raced in for a 34-yard touchdown run. Ruiz kicked the extra point for a 41-13 lead.
A holding penalty pinned the Blue Devils deep in their own territory and the Indians recovered a fumbled punt at the Blue Devil 4. The defense only gave up two yards on two running plays before Linkous scored on a 2-yard run. The pass for the extra point was incomplete for a 41-19 Blue Devil lead.
Grayson closed out the scoring with 5:12 to play in the game when Bourne intercepted a pass and returned it for a 15-yard touchdown. Ruiz kicked the extra point for the final score.
Blue Devil coach Brett McPherson summed up the game as “brutal.”
“Rural Retreat had some big running backs that were hard to bring down,” McPherson said. “I felt we made the plays when we had to. Max is getting better every game and the defense is coming together.”
The Blue Devils will travel to Clintwood this Friday night to take on the defending state champions.
Rural Retreat............7 6 0 6––19
Grayson County......21 7 13 7––48
RR–Linkous 9 run (Dunford kick) 8:23
GC–Mk.Rodgers 37 pass from Mx.Rodgers (Ruiz kick) 5:11
GC–Mk.Rodgers 39 pass from Mx.Rodgers (Ruiz kick) 1:32
GC–Mx.Rodgers 3 run (Ruiz kick) 0:35
GC–Mx.Rodgers 1 run (Ruiz kick) 10:34
RR–Caudill 18 run (kick failed) 5:00
GC–Mk.Rodgers 18 pass from Mx.Rodgers (kick failed) 4:14
GC–Smith 34 run (Ruiz kick) 2:47
RR–Linkous 2 run (pass failed) 9:58
GC–Bourne 15 interception return (Ruiz kick) 5:12
First downs 15 14
Rushes-yards 47-290 27-194
Yards passing 55 150
Comp-Att-Int 4-12-2 8-19-0
Return yards 110 117
Punts-average 3-30.3 2-39.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 8-75 4-20
RUSHING—Rural Retreat, Caudill 26-194, Epps 7-39, Corvin 4-36 Sowers 3-14, Linkous 3-13, Ryan 1-(-1), Wright 3-(-6). Grayson County, Mx.Rodgers 12-100, Smith 7-61, Roberts 7-28, Williams 1-5.
PASSING–Rural Retreat, Wright 4-11-1-55, Heldreth 0-1-1-0. Grayson County, Mx.Rodgers 8-19-0-150.
RECEIVING–Rural Retreat, Linkous 4-55. Grayson County, Mk.Rodgers 5-115, Roberts 2-22, Rudy 1-13.