Grapeland Finishes Regular Season 6-4, 2-3
By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Sandies welcomed the Leon Cougars to Sandie Stadium for their last game of the regular season. Grapeland was coming off of back-to-back losses to Normangee and Centerville, while Leon had lost in the previous week to Groveton.
The game would be for third place in District 11-2A DI and on their first series of downs, it looked like the Sandies were up to the challenge at hand. As the game wore on and injuries began to take their toll, the Sandies found themselves in a deep hole they could not dig their way out of, falling by a final score of 30-8.
It was Senior Night in Grapeland and after the soon-to-be graduates were honored the game got underway. Leon won the toss and elected to defer until the second half.
The Sandies opened the game with possession of the ball at their own 39. On first down, Keizion Ashford was stopped for no gain while Lekerian Smith powered his way to a five-yard gain on second. Faced with third and five from the 44, Ashford connected with Riley Murchison on a drag route across the middle and the speedy sophomore turned a seven or eight yard pick-up into a 48-yard reception, down to the Leon eight.
Cadarian Wiley gained five on the next play to move the ball to the three-yard line. That was as close as the Sandies would get to crossing the goal line, however. On second down, Ashford lost two yards. Back-to-back incompletions turned the ball over to the Cougars and they wasted little time going the length of the field to score the game’s first points.
On first down, Tyson Cornett found a hole in the Grapeland defense and scampered 60 yards to the Sandies 35-yard line. Luis Guillen added 15 more yards on the next play and on the Cougars third play from scrimmage, QB Jacob Robinson connected with Logan Noey for a nine-yard TD reception. Cornett bulled his way across the goal on the two-point conversion and with 8:31 left in the first quarter, the Sandies trailed, 8-0.
The Sandies’ next possession started at midfield. Following an initial 10-yard gain, the Grapeland offense ground to a halt and turned the ball over on downs.
Leon took over at the Grapeland 42 and after a holding call put the Cougars in a third and long situation, Leon went to the air. Robinson completed an 11 yard pass to Cornett and then found Nicholas Leggett with a 19-yard completion to move the ball to the 25. On the next play from scrimmage, Robinson connected with Tyler Kirschner on a 25-yard scoring strike to put the Cougars up 14-0 with 2:36 left in the first quarter.
Grapeland’s next possession began at their own 27 but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved the ball to the 42. Wiley broke free for 10 yards on the next play, but a holding call wiped out the gain. A sack of Murchison, who had moved under center, killed any momentum the Sandies might have had and forced yet another turnover on downs.
On Leon’s next series, the Grapeland defense rose up and forced a punt which pinned the Sandies at their own six. Wiley gained a yard on first down and then Ashford threw to Omarian Wiley for four yards. On third-and-five, Smith was stopped at the line of scrimmage and the Sandies were forced into a punting situation.
A high snap on the kick attempt forced Smith to leap to catch the ball. When he returned to earth, he tried to run for the first, but the Cougars defense quickly pounced on him and Leon took over at the Grapeland five.
Cornett wasted little time extending the Leon lead as he slipped into the end zone on the next play. Robinson found Luis Guillen on the try for two and with 6:51 remaining in the first half, the Cougars now led 22-0.
The score remained that way until midway through the third quarter. A Grapeland fumble set the Cougars up at the Sandies 25-yard line. From there, Cornett ran the ball three times with the last rushing attempt being a five-yard TD, Robinson and Leggett combined on the two-point conversion and with 6:54 remaining in the third quarter, Leon now led 30-0.
As the third quarter wound down, the two teams exchanged possessions. The lone bright spot for the Sandies came with 33 seconds left in the quarter. C. Wiley lined up in the wildcat formation and took a direct snap from center.
He slipped a tackle at the line of scrimmage and raced 66 yards untouched for a Grapeland TD. Smith added the two point conversion and at the end of the third, Grapeland trailed 30-8.
Neither team could generate anything on offense during the final quarter of play as the final score wound up being 30-8, in favor of Leon.
The loss brings Grapeland’s regular season to a close as they finished up with an overall record of 6-4 and a district record of 2-3. The Sandies did manage to stumble into the playoffs as the fourth seed out of District 11-2A DI.
They will face the District 12-2A DI champions – the Hearne Eagles – in the Bi-District round of the playoffs. Hearne is currently 8-0 and ranked just outside of the Top 10 in Class 2A.
The two teams will meet at Trinity Football Stadium on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $5 each and will go on sale starting Monday, Nov. 9 from 8:30-2:30 pm at the GISD Administration Office. Only 400 tickets are available and they are on a first come, first serve basis. Please remember that masks are required to enter the stadium and please social distance.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.