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MAX MEADOWS –– Fort Chiswell drove 79 yards in less than two minutes, converting a third-and-26 along the way, and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 27 seconds left to squeak past Grayson County 32-28 Friday in a Western Section Division 2 second round game at C.F. McKinney Field.
Grayson County, the No. 8 seed, sees its season end at 9-3, while top-seeded Fort Chiswell (11-1) advances to next week’s state quarterfinals against John Battle (11-1).
The Blue Devils made a potential game-cinching defensive stand, stopping the Pioneers on downs when Caleb Billings batted down a Brett Mabry pass with Grayson leading 28-25 and just 3:06 to play.
Grayson was unable to pick up a first down and punted to the Fort Chiswell 21, where the Pioneers took over with 1:59 left in the ballgame.
“We couldn’t run the football all night,” said Grayson County coach Brett McPherson. “We needed to get a couple of first downs and we couldn’t run the football when we needed to.”
Fort Chiswell put the ball in the air 10 straight times on its winning drive, though an intentional grounding penalty on Mabry backed the Pioneers into a third-and-26 near midfield.
Mabry found Levi Mooney open for a 40-yard game to the 9 for a fresh set of downs, then found Mooney all alone in the end zone two plays later for the go-ahead score.
“We had opportunities,” McPherson said. “We got them in third-and-long, and its just about making plays there. They made the big plays and we didn’t.”
The two teams took turns trading blows through the first three quarters, beginning with a 76-yard Fort Chiswell drive on the Pioneers’ first possession. Daniel Hamm carried eight times on the nine-play drive, accounting for 75 of the 76 yards, including an 8-yard scoring run four minutes into the game.
Daniel Eversole’s PAT was off the mark, but the Pioneers were up 6-0.
Grayson County needed less than 60 seconds to answer. Mikey Rodgers capped a quick four-play drive when he snagged a 21-yard toss from Max Rodgers, but the wayward PAT left the teams tied at 6-6 at 7:18 of the first period.
Hamm, who racked up 234 rushing yards in the first half, broke free on a 74-yard scoring run (Fort’s try for two failed), but the Blue Devils got a defensive touchdown before the quarter ended to take a one-point lead.
At his own 37-yard line, the Pioneers’ Corey Vaughan coughed up the football, which landed in Lucas Rudy’s hands with nothing but green grass between himself and the end zone. Rudy’s touchdown and Mario Ruiz’s point-after sent the Devils into the second period with a 13-12 lead.
Fort Chiswell regained the lead early in the second half on a leaping 26-yard touchdown catch by Mooney. The Pioneers again failed on the two-point conversion but led 28-13.
After trading fruitless possessions, Grayson County’s Jarel Smith got a hand on a Pioneers punt to give the Blue Devils the ball at the Fort Chiswell 31 late in the first half. Six plays later, Max Rodgers kept on a belly option, riding Smith until the runningback was stood up, then pulling the ball back out and pushing through the Pioneers line from a yard away with just five seconds left in the half.
Rodgers then hit Mikey Rodgers for the two-point conversion and a 21-18 lead at the half.
The two teams traded punts early in the third period and Grayson added to its lead on its second possession of the third period. On second-and-goal from the 11, Spencer Roberts snuck out of the backfield undetected and snared a Max Rodgers toss for a 28-18 lead with 5:48 left in the period.
Fort Chiswell cut the gap to three points moments later when Hamm finished off a 66-yard, seven-play drive with an 8-yard burst off of left tackle.
Hamm would finish with 275 yards on 35 carries as the Pioneers outgained Grayson 295-72 on the ground.
Mabry completed 12-of-23 passes for 193 yards, the bulk of which came in the second half. Mooney had five catches for 98 yards and two scores.
Roberts had seven receptions for 117 yards and Mikey Rodgers caught four passes for another 63 yards as Max Rodgers finished 12-of-26 for 183 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
Ft. Chiswell 32, Grayson Co. 28
Grayson County......13 8 7 0––28
Fort Chiswell...........12 6 7 7––32
FC–Hamm 8 run (kick failed) 8:06
GC–Mk.Rodgers 15 pass from Mx.Rodgers (kick failed) 7:18
FC–Hamm 74 run (run failed) 4:58
GC–Rudy 37 fumble return (Ruiz kick) 2:05
FC–Mooney 26 pass from Mabry (run failed) 10:12
GC–Mx.Rodgers 1 run (Mk.Rodgers pass from Mx.Rodgers) 0:05
GC–Roberts 11 pass from Mx.Rodgers (Ruiz kick) 5:48
FC–Hamm 8 run (Eversole kick) 1:46
FC–Mooney 9 pass from Mabry (Eversole kick) 0:19
First downs 13 19
Rushes-yards 28-72 42-295
Yards passing 183 193
Comp-Att-Int 12-26-2 12-23-0
Return yards 95 72
Punts-average 6-27.8 5-24.4
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 7-40 10-113
RUSHING—Grayson County, J.Smith 12-39, Roberts 4-22, Bilbrey 4-11, Mx.Rodgers 8-0. Fort Chiswell, Hamm 35-275, Mabry 6-21, Vaughan 1-2, team 1-(-3).
PASSING–Grayson County, Mx.Rodgers 12-26-2-183. Fort Chiswell, Mabry 12-23-0-193.
RECEIVING–Grayson County, Roberts 7-117, Mk.Rodgers 4-63, Rudy 1-3. Fort Chiswell, Mooney 5-98, Rathbone 3-45, Vaughan 3-25, Hamm 1-25.