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INDEPENDENCE –– Regardless of who is standing on the other sideline, ending a month-long skid is reason to feel good.
Grayson County, which saw a three-game season-opening winning streak dampened by a four-game slide, had its way with the Bland County defense Friday and got back on the winning track, celebrating homecoming with a 48-7 Mountain Empire District win at Bill Strong Field.
“I haven’t been this nervous in a long time. I was almost in desperation mode for a win,” Grayson County coach Brett McPherson said after the Devils picked up their first win since Sept. 10. “The kids came out and played and we really looked sharp on offense. We tried to get back to what we had been doing, distributing the ball around a little bit, and we played pretty well on offense.”
After opening up a 27-0 halftime lead, Grayson County (4-4 overall, 1-1 district) had possession of the ball for just one play in the third quarter and ran just three offensive plays to the Bears’ 29 as the fourth period neared its midpoint, but still managed to put up a couple of touchdowns during that span. Bland County (2-7, 0-3) chewed up more than six minutes and mounted a 15-play drive off of the second-half kickoff but was stopped on downs at the Blue Devil 10.
“Bland does a good job running that offense. If they had the Lambert kid they’d be a real solid little team,” McPherson said of the Bears, who were without top runningback Jacob Lambert.
It took Grayson but one play to cash in on the stop as Xavier Rodriguez took a pitch to the right, cut up the sideline and outran the defense for a 90-yard touchdown run. Mario Ruiz’s PAT widened the lead to 34-0 at 5:03 of the third.
Bland again methodically marched downfield on the Devils, going 62 yards in 14 plays, this time completing the drive when Ethan Stowers hauled in a quick toss from quarterback Dylan Kidd and raced 19 yards to the end zone on a fourth-and-11 play, cutting the margin to 34-7.
“We’ve still got to work on defense,” McPherson said. “We’ve moved a lot of people around the last couple of weeks and we’re still not in position a lot of times to do the right thing. But they played hard, had a good week of practice and got a win.”
Grayson answered this drive the same way it answered the previous one. Hash hit Eric Harvey on a quick hitch pattern and Harvey juked the secondary before racing up the left sideline for a 59-yard score on the second play of the possession.
The Blue Devils added one last score when reserve quarterback Max Rodgers broke free on a 59-yard run to the Bland 11, then carried over from the 5 two plays later.
Grayson scored all seven times it had the ball, including four in the first half. Rodriguez capped a five-play, 57-yard drive off the opening kick, scoring from 12 yards out.
Rodriguez was on the end of a six-play, 80-yard drive with a 15-yard run for a 14-0 lead at 6:01 of the first.
Grayson had to put a little more work into its third scoring drive, going 83 yards in an impressive 21 plays with Hash bulling over from 2 yards out.
Following a three-and-out by Bland, Grayson was back to its quick-strike mode, going 64 yards in four plays, with Darren Anderson doing the honors with a 27-yard run for a 27-point halftime lead.
Grayson rolled up 495 yards of total offense, including 318 yards on 31 rushes. Rodriguez led the way with 166 yards on 12 attempts while Max Rodgers, Anderson and Hash gained between 46 and 59 yards apiece.
Hash completed 7-of-13 passes for 177 yards, hitting Harvey three times for 106 yards.
Kidd carried 16 times for 88 yards and Stowers added 69 rushing yards for Bland.
Bland County............0 0 0 7–– 7
Grayson County......14 13 7 14––48
GC–Rodriguez 12 run (kick failed) 9:56
GC–Rodriguez 15 run (Rodriguez run) 6:01
GC–Hash 2 run (Ruiz kick) 7:50
GC–Anderson 27 run (kick failed) 4:50
GC–Rodriguez 90 run (Ruiz kick) 5:04
BC– Stowers 19 pass from Kidd (Goins kick) 8:15
GC–Harvey 59 pass from Hash (Ruiz kick) 7:49
GC–Mx.Rodgers 5 run (Ruiz kick) 3:06
First downs 14 20
Rushes-yards 44-205 31-318
Yards passing 32 177
Comp-Att-Int 3-10-1 7-13-0
Return yards 99 24
Punts-average 2-30.0 0-0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 7-51 4-45
RUSHING—Bland County, Kidd 16-88, Stowers 20-69, Haun 11-32, Fisher 3-11, Pauley 1-3, Holston 3-2. Grayson County, Rodriguez 12-166, Mx.Rodgers 2-59, Anderson 7-49, Hash 8-46, Smith 2-(-2).
PASSING–Bland County, Kidd 3-10-1-32. Grayson County, Hash 7-13-0-177.
RECEIVING–Bland County, Stowers 1-19, Greene 2-13. Grayson County, Harvey 3-106, Roberts 1-34, Mk.Rodgers 2-25, Anderson 1-12.