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BASTIAN –– Grayson County’s first possession may have been a disaster, but the final three quarters were definitely catastrophic for Bland County.
Grayson County shook off a ragged start and scored three touchdowns in the final 8:10 of the first half, eventually racing away with a 51-12 win in a Mountain Empire District game Friday.
The Blue Devils got back above the .500 mark at 4-3 overall and squared their district record at 1-1. Bland County dropped its 21st straight game, falling to 0-7, 0-2.
“We just wanted to get out and play,” said Grayson coach Brett McPherson, whose club was outscored 20-0 in the second half by Graham in a 26-20 loss the previous Friday. “We were kind of dwelling on things Monday and Tuesday and it drags on. My focus was to get my quarterback out there running the ball and doing some things and he did a good job of that.”
But it wasn’t quite automatic in the early going. The Bears took advantage of a pair of field position gifts and trailed the Blue Devils just 14-12 at the 8:35 mark of the second quarter.
Grayson had 117 passing yards wiped out by penalties in its first drive. A 47-yard gain to the Bland 8 came back on a holding call, and an ineligible receiver penalty on the next play nullified a 70-yard score.
Backed into a fourth-and-29, a high punt snap gave Bland possession at the Grayson 15, and the Bears were in the end zone five plays later on a 1-yard keeper by Mason Christian.
“We came out slow and had a couple of penalties, and Bland came out and played hard,” McPherson said. “They gave a great effort.”
The Blue Devils covered 81 yards in just six plays to take the lead for good. Quarterback Max Rodgers kept for a 32-yard gain to the Bland 45 and found Tyler Lundy open for a 26-yard completion to the 20. James Williams took a pitch to the left and raced in from there, then added the two-point conversion for an 8-6 lead at 3:45 of the first.
John Bilbrey’s interception set up a one-play scoring drive minutes later, with Rodgers rolling to his left and dumping a short pass to Williams, who completed the 60-yard scoring play for a 14-6 lead as the first quarter expired.
Grayson’s next possession also lasted a single play as Bland’s Tyler Wright pounced on a Devil fumble at the Grayson 28. On second-and-13, Bland’s Austin Emerson hauled in a Christian pass and rumbled 31 yards toward the end zone before being popped and losing possession at the goal line. Aaron Rose was on the spot and jumped on the ball in the end zone for a Bears touchdown, but the try for two failed and Grayson held on to its 14-12 lead with 8:35 left in the half.
The rest of the second quarter looked like a walk-through for the Blue Devils.
Grayson went 71 yards on two Bilbrey touches, a 15-yard catch to the 46 and a 54-yard off-tackle run to the end zone. Two possessions later, the Devils used two snaps to gobble up 77 yards as Rodgers ran for 19 yards and Williams went off the right side for the remaining 58.
Grayson capped the scoring spree with a 48-yard drive in the final 1:52 of the second quarter. Bilbrey and Ty Cannaday each had two receptions on the drive, with Cannaday scoring on a quick slant from the 7 with 37 seconds left in the half for a 37-12 Grayson lead at the break.
Good night, game over, drive home safely.
“We just tried to come in and do what we do, and get a win,” McPherson said. “We’ve got to win everything from here on out. It wasn’t the cleanest thing but it was okay.”
The Blue Devils tacked on a pair of bookend scores in the second half – Lundy’s 2-yard plunge on Grayson’s first possession and Jarrien Goins’ 55-yard sprint in the final minute – while holding the Bears to a single first down in between.
Goins’ final burst gave him 103 yards on five attempts as nine Blue Devils combined for 365 yards on 41 rushes. Williams added 89 yards and Bilbrey ran for 66 and caught four passes for another 64.
Rodgers ran three times for 49 yards and completed 10-of-16 passes for 169 yards as Grayson racked up 24 first downs and 540 yards of total offense.
The Blue Devil defense surrendered five first downs on the night, allowing Bland 137 yards of offense.
Grayson Co. 51, Bland Co. 12
Grayson County......14 23 7 7––51
Bland County............6 6 0 0––12
BC–Christian 1 run (kick failed) 6:06
GC–Williams 20 run (Williams run) 3:45
GC–Williams 60 pass from Rodgers (run failed) 0:00
BC–Rose recovered fumble in end zone (run failed) 8:35
GC–Bilbrey 54 run (Rodgers run) 8:10
GC–Williams 58 run (Rodgers run) 3:03
GC–Cannaday 7 pass from Rodgers (Peters kick) 0:37
GC–T.Lundy 2 run (Peters kick) 8:05
GC–Goins 55 run (Peters kick) 0:28
First downs 24 5
Rushes-yards 41-365 40-71
Yards passing 175 66
Comp-Att-Int 11-19-0 4-7-1
Return yards 35 84
Punts-average 1-37.0 7-38.6
Fumbles-lost 4-3 2-0
Penalties-yards 3-25 4-25
RUSHING—Grayson County, Goins 5-103, Williams 5-89, Bilbrey 6-66, Rodgers 3-49, Cox 4-34, Carrico 5-21, Cowley 7-11, Medley 4-4, T.Lundy 1-2, team 1-(-14). Bland County, Miller 6-20, Walker 7-17, Parker 6-12, Faulkner 2-11, Pauley 5-11, Slaughter 3-10, Boyd 2-0, Christian 8-(-7), team 1-(-3).
PASSING–Grayson County, Rodgers 10-16-0-169, T.Lundy 1-3-0-6. Bland County, Christian 4-7-1-66.
RECEIVING–Grayson County, Bilbrey 4-64, Williams 1-60, T. Lundy 1-26. Bland County, Emerson 1-31, Faulkner 1-21, Rose 1-11, Pauley 1-5.