Grapeland Now 2-1 in District 11-2A DI
By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Sandies welcomed the Normangee Panthers to Sandie Stadium for a contest between two undefeated District 11-2A DI foes.
The Sandies came into the game having defeated Alto and Groveton to start league play while Normangee had also taken down Groveton, along with Leon.
It was Homecoming for Grapeland and while that usually that works in favor of the home team, Normangee jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as they handed the Sandies a 64-22 beat down.
It didn’t take long for the scoring to begin. Normangee won the toss and elected to receive. On the Panthers’ second play from scrimmage, QB Mason Hardy took it 63 yards to the end zone and then kicked the extra point to make the score 7-0 at the 11:20 mark of the first quarter.
Grapeland’s first possession ended with an interception thrown by QB Cooper Sheridan who was under center for the injured BJ Lamb. The interception was just as good as a punt as it pinned the Panthers inside their own 20.
Despite the poor field position, Normangee went to work on the Grapeland run defense as they gashed the Sandies for over 40 yards. The passing game was also working for the Panthers as Hardy connected with wide-out Denton Young for an eight yard gain and then again on a 34-yard scoring strike with 7:25 left in the first. Following the extra point, Grapeland now trailed 14-0.
A fumble on the Sandies’ next possession gave the ball right back to Normangee at the Grapeland 31. Following a four-yard loss from Jeremy Johnson, Hardy and Young hooked up once again for a 15-yard gain. Two plays later, Hardy kept it and scampered 20 yards into the end zone to make the score 21-0, following the PAT.
The Sandies’ fate was sealed on the ensuing kickoff as the Panthers recovered an onside kick at the Grapeland 33. On the next play from scrimmage, Hardy and Young teamed up once again on a 33-yard TD completion with 5:53 left in the first quarter.
As the first quarter came to an end, Grapeland seemed shell-shocked but still managed to find a little offensive spark. Keizion Ashford ripped off seven yards on first down and after Lekerian Smith picked up two, Ashford worked his way up the field for two more.
Riley Murchison hauled in an Ashford pass for 13 yards and the Sandies were in Normangee territory for the first time in the game. Three plays later, however, an incomplete pass gave the ball back to the Panthers at the Grapeland 40.
Five plays later, Young was back in the end zone and with Hardy’s PAT, Grapeland now trailed 35-0.
The Sandies finally got on the board during their next possession. After a first down incompletion, Cadarian Wiley gained six yards. Ashford found Michael Dancer for seven yards and then connected with Omarian Wiley for five more to move across midfield.
Ashford picked up seven yards on first down while Wiley added six more to give the Sandies their best field position of the night at the Normangee 34. The next play from scrimmage saw Ashford keep it around right end, bounce off of a couple of would-be tacklers and spin his way into the end zone for six points. The try for two was more difficult than normal as the Sandies fumbled into the end zone where Murchison pounced on it, cutting the score to 35-8 with seven minutes left in the half.
The Panthers were quick to respond as Hardy scored from 11 yards out on Normangee’s next series of downs to the Panthers up by a score of 42-8.
Grapeland caught a break on their next possession when a bobbled punt was recovered by Johnny Lamb at the Normangee 20-yard line. The Sandies worked the clock down to 11 seconds and on first and 10 from the 11, Ashford found a crease in the Panthers’ D and slipped into the end zone to make the score 42-14.
Despite being out played badly, the Sandies were still in the game. The extra point attempt, however, seemed to suck the wind out them. The kick was blocked and Normangee’s Jose Molina scooped up the ball, returning it 80 yards for two points and pushing the Panthers lead out to 44-14. The return for two brought the first half to a close.
The second half started with Grapeland going nowhere and Normangee scoring to push their lead to 51-14. The Sandies followed up with a TD of their own as Cadarian Wiley found the end zone from four-yards out. Sheridan added the two point conversion to make the score 51-22.
The Panthers added two more scores to bring the final tally to 64-22, Normangee. The Panthers win gives them sole possession of first place on top of the District 11-2A DI standings. The Sandies are in a second place tie with the Centerville Tigers and Leon Cougars, all with 2-1 records.
The Sandies will travel to Centerville this Friday evening for a game with Tigers that has huge playoff implications. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.