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INDEPENDENCE –– Grayson County had made a living all year by making opponents pay for their mistakes. The Blue Devils’ season came to an end by the same means.
Entering the second round of the Western Section Division 2 playoffs with a plus-23 turnover ratio, Grayson County gave the ball away five times Friday night, leading to a 31-20 loss to Dan River at Bill Strong Field.
“We have not done that all year,” Grayson County coach Brett McPherson said of the turnovers. “[Dan River] created some of those. They’re very good on defense, but we gave them too many opportunities. Playoff football, you can’t make a lot of big mistakes.”
The turnovers led to a decisive advantage in time of possession for the 10th-seeded Wildcats (9-3), who pounded away at the Grayson defense with Virginia Tech-bound Trey Edmunds. A 6-2, 205-pound tailback/linebacker, Edmunds accounted for all but 23 of Dan River’s 268 offensive yards, rushing 38 times for 205 yards and completing one pass for 40 more.
“He’s a good football player,” McPherson said. “I’ve got some good football players over here, too, but they might not be going to Virginia Tech. I think we battled him pretty good. He earned his keep tonight.”
The No. 2 seeded Blue Devils trailed 24-20 when they took over at their own 16 following a Wildcat punt with 5:03 to play. Any hopes Grayson of a comeback evaporated two plays later when Terrell Edmunds stripped Xavier Rodriguez of the ball at the 19. Trey Edmunds carried four times from there, scoring from the 11 on fourth-and-2 with 2:31 remaining.
The first three offensive snaps of the night produced a turnover and two touchdowns. Trey Edmunds picked off a Max Rodgers pass on Grayson’s first offensive play and returned it 36 yards to the Devil 9, from where he scored on Dan River’s first snap for a 7-0 lead just 23 seconds into the game.
Sixteen seconds later, Rodriguez was in the end zone after taking a handoff to the left side and sprinting 65 yards up the sideline. The PAT was blocked, leaving Grayson down 7-6 with 11:21 left in the first.
Lucas Rudy’s interception and 36-yard return to the Wildcat 14 set up a go-ahead score for the Devils, as Rodgers rolled right and found Rodriguez in the back corner of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 12-7 lead after one quarter.
Dan River answered with a 4-yard Deqwontez McMoore TD run early in the second period, followed by a 1-yard burst by Trey Edmunds with 2:44 left in the half to barge ahead 21-12. Edmunds set up his scoring run by connecting with Deundrae Gregory on a 40-yard completion to the 1 on a halfback option.
Grayson County managed one last drive before the half, marching 65 yards in nine plays. Mikey Rodgers’ 19-yard catch at the 4 converted a fourth-and-12, and Darren Anderson pushed in from there on the next play, with Rodriguez punching through for the two-point conversion and a 21-20 score at halftime.
Grayson County’s first four possessions of the second half ended with three lost fumbles and a turnover on downs. The Dan River defense loaded the line of scrimmage all night and allowed precious little time for the Blue Devils to develop plays on offense.
“There are things that you think you can do, but they overwhelmed us at the point of attack,” McPherson said. “They’re very good on defense. They’re used to seeing a lot of speed in the Dogwood [District], so we weren’t going to outflank them a lot.”
Grayson managed 159 yards of offense. Rodriguez carried 14 times for 70 yards and Rodgers was 4-of-16 for 69 yards.
Dan River.................7 14 3 7––31
Grayson County......12 8 0 0––20
DR–Tr.Edmunds 9 run (Lewis kick) 11:37
GC–Rodriguez 65 run (kick failed) 11:21
GC–Rodriguez 10 pass from Mx.Rodgers (run failed) 8:17
DR–McMoore 4 run (Edmunds run) 9:02
DR–Tr.Edmunds 1 run (run failed) 2:44
GC–Anderson 4 run (Rodriguez run) 0:36
DR–Lewis 34 FG, 7:21
DR–Tr.Edmunds 11 run (Lewis kick) 2:31
First downs 15 7
Rushes-yards 58-228 27-90
Yards passing 40 69
Comp-Att-Int 1-4-1 4-16-1
Return yards 66 96
Punts-average 3-25.1 3-35.0
Fumbles-lost 5-2 5-4
Penalties-yards 11-88 3-35
RUSHING—Dan River, Tr.Edmunds 38-205, McMoore 9-18, Adams 3-10, Te.Edmunds 1-0, Tickle 4-(-2), team 3-(-3). Grayson County, Rodriguez 14-70, Anderson 9-32, Mx.Rodgers 4-(-12).
PASSING–Tr.Edmunds 1-1-0-40, Tickle 0-2-0-0, Te.Edmunds 0-1-1-0. Grayson County, Mx.Rodgers 4-16-1-69.
RECEIVING–Dan River, Gregory 1-40. Grayson County, Rodriguez 5-30, Mk.Rodgers 1-19.