Mart Defeats Grapeland, 64-22
By Will Johnson
MADISONVILLE – The Grapeland Sandies were on a roll. They had won 10 straight and had given up zero points in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Sandies appeared ready to pull off a monumental upset over the Mart Panthers in the Regional Semifinals and for the first two quarters it looked like they just might.
The Panthers, however, had different ideas and when they came out of the locker room after halftime, Mart showed why they had been ranked at or near the top of the polls – all year – as they pulled away from the Sandies to win by a final score of 64-22.
As the game got underway, Grapeland won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Sandies went nowhere on their first possession and were forced to punt.
With swirling winds playing a factor, the Panthers took over possession at the Grapeland 38 following the punt. The Grapeland defense rose up and stuffed Mart to take over on downs at their own 35.
Once again, the Sandies couldn’t generate any offense and were forced into a punting situation. Disaster struck on the punt, however, as the snap sailed over the head of Rick Frauenberger who tracked it down in the end zone and was forced to take a safety with 8:21 left in the quarter.
The Panthers took over at their own 47, following the free kick but the Grapeland D played lights out as the two teams exchanged punts on the next two possessions.
When Mart took possession after the Grapeland punt, Mart’s Tyrek Horne bounced off would be tacklers at the line of scrimmage and scampered 44 yards to the Grapeland nine. After Horne picked up another eight on first down, Mart’s Shatydrick Bailey slip through the line for a one-yard TD. The try for two was no good, but with 3:49 left in the first quarter, the Panthers had taken an 8-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Sandies’ offense came alive. After an incompletion, Keizion Ashford bulled his way for 10 yards only to have a personal foul wipe out the gain.
With the ball at their own 27, Frauenberger found Gavin French all alone on the sidelines. French made a spectacular grab, stayed in bounds and picked up a first down at the Sandies’ 45-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage, Frauenberger connected with Javion Joseph at the Mart 43.
Joseph was hit immediately after the catch but bounced off of the Mart defender and sprinted the rest of the way for the Sandies’ first score of the game. The two-point conversion was no good, but with 2:32 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Grapeland had cut the lead to 8-6.
The score remained the same until the 10:03 mark of the second quarter. After a Grapeland punt gave the ball to the Panthers at their own 44, the next play from scrimmage saw Bailey break through the line and outrun everyone to the end zone. The PAT was good and made the score 15-6.
Grapeland was unable to go anywhere the next time they saw the ball and punted it back to Mart. Starting at their own 11, Mart QB Kyler Martin found Horne for 14. A pass interference call moved the rock out to the 40 and was followed by a heavy dose of Horne and Bailey.
With just over four minutes left in the half, Horne plowed his way through the middle of the line for six and after the extra point by Elijah Green, the Sandies found themselves trailing by a score of 22-6.
Grapeland’s next drive stalled and the Sandies were forced to punt, yet again. Following the kick, Mart brought the Sandies back to life when Martin was picked off by BJ Lamb on a play he read perfectly.
Lamb secured the ball at the 31 and walked untouched into the end zone. Frauenberger connected with Tyrin Wiley on the try for two and just like that, the Sandies were back in the game with the scoreboard reading Mart 22 Grapeland 14.
The Panthers scored one last time before the break as Horne found the goal line from 15 yards out to make the score 29-14 after the extra point as the two teams went to their locker rooms at halftime.
Following the intermission, the Panthers struck first as Horne bowled his way across the goal line from two yards out which made the score 36-14, after the XP.
The Sandies were not finished, however. On their first play from scrimmage after the kick, Cadarian Wiley took a handoff from Frauenberger and turned on the jets as he scampered 86 yards for a TD. Frauenberger found Joseph for the two point conversion and with 9:52 left in the third, Grapeland only trailed 36-22.
That was as close as the Sandies would get, unfortunately, as the Mart defense slammed the door on Grapeland while the Panthers offense added two more touchdowns in the third quarter and two more in the fourth to make the final score 64-22, Mart.
Following the game, Grapeland AD/Head Coach spoke about his team and the season.
“We played so hard. I really think they laid it all on the line in the first half. The atmosphere in the locker room at halftime was one of exhaustion. They were tired. They played hard and gave it everything they had. We held it close as long as we could but then their (Mart’s) depth and talent took over,” the coach said.
Commenting on the team’s seniors, Mahaffey said, “They have had four fantastic years. They have been a big part in getting this program heading in the direction it needs to go. They have been in the playoffs all four years and each year they have gotten better. I told them thanks for the leadership they have provided since they’ve been in high school.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.