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Yellow Jackets Sting Sandies

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Grapeland Drops District Opener, 49-14

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Sandies opened play in District 11-2A DI last Friday night as they hosted the Alto Yellow Jackets at Sandie Stadium. Grapeland came into the game with a record of 3-2 and had defeated the Burkeville Mustangs the previous week.

Alto entered the contest with a record of 2-1 and had taken down the San Augustine Wolves the previous week by a final score of 47-20.

 It was Senior Night in Grapeland last Friday and after the seniors had been honored in the pregame festivities, the two teams took the field for what looked to be a good game. Unfortunately, a late first half touchdown by Alto followed by a second half surge did in the Sandies as the Yellow Jackets defeated Grapeland by a final score of 49-14.

The Jackets won the toss and deferred to the second half. Grapeland opened with possession of the ball at their own 39. Back-to-back plays resulted in a loss of three. On third-and-13, Riley Murchison kept the ball and picked up seven. As he was fighting for more yardage, however, the ball popped free. Alto’s Jay Pope scooped it up and raced 36 yards to the end zone for the game’s first score. Angel Serrano’s PAT was good and before everyone was seated for the game, Alto had jumped out to an early 7-0 lead.

The Sandies answered back on their next possession. Starting at their own 30, Grapeland stayed on the ground. Cadarian Wiley was held to no gain on first down, but on second down, Lakerina Smith picked up 10. Wiley added five on the next play, but a bad exchange on second down caused the Sandies to lose three.

Faced with a third and eight, Murchison dropped back to pass and found Isaac Edwards for 10. A roughing the passer call was tacked on to the end of the play and moved the ball down to the Alto 30. A five-yard pick gain by Smith was wiped out by a pair of negative gains to bring up a fourth-and-nine.

Once again, Murchison came through as he found Omarian Wiley for 16 yards and a first down at the Jackets’ 14. On the next play from scrimmage, C. Wiley did what he does best. He found a seam in the defense and burst up the middle for a 14-yard TD at the 6:43 mark of the first quarter. He also converted the try for two to give the Sandies an 8-7 lead.

Alto’ next possession began on their own 49 and on first down, Von Mumphrey scampered 51 yards to the end zone. There was a penalty on the play, however, and the ball came back to the 42. The Alto drive stalled after the penalty and the Jackets were forced to punt.

The kick pinned Grapeland at their own six but an eight-yard pickup by C. Wiley and a 22-yard gain by Smith moved the Sandies out to the 36. An illegal procedure call wiped out a nice run from Wiley and forced the Sandies into a third-and-10.

Murchison found Smith with a 10-yard completion to keep the drive going. C. Wiley picked up 12 on the next play, but a bad snap pushed Grapeland back to the 31. The Sandies worked their way down to the 25 but on fourth-and-six, Murchison could only pick up two and Alto took over on downs at their own 23.

An offsides call against the Sandies and a 15-yard reception by V. Mumphrey moved the ball out to the 43. Following a pickup of one, Keegan Davis connected with Rashawn Mumphrey for 38 yards to move inside the Grapeland redzone.

Two plays later, Davis plowed his way across the goal line for a one-yard TD. The try for two was good and with 7:13 left in the first half, Alto reclaimed the lead at 15-8.

The two teams swapped possessions as neither could pick up a first down and with time becoming a factor, the Sandies took over at their own 19. A 17-yard completion moved Grapeland out to the 38, but on the next play, Murchison was picked off by the Jackets at the Alto 41.     

It appeared as if the Sandies might get out of the half with no repercussions from the pick, but after the Jackets moved into Grapeland territory, a 33-yard romp from V. Mumphrey with four seconds left on the clock, put Alto up by 14 and brought the half to a close with the Yellow Jackets leading, 22-8.

As the second half got underway, it looked as if the Sandies might be poised for a comeback. The Jackets started with third quarter with the ball at their own 41, but a fumble on Alto’s first snap of the half gave the ball back to Grapeland on their own 48.

It didn’t take long for the Sandies to get right back in the game as Smith took a handoff from Murchison and raced 48 yards to the end zone to make the score 22-14, at the 11:33 mark of the third.

That was as close as the Sandies would get, however, as the Jackets scored on their next possession to go up by 14. A pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff was recovered by Alto and three plays later, the Jackets were back in the end zone.

Try as they might, Grapeland was unable to muster a comeback as Alto went on to win by a final score of 49-14.

Following the game, Grapeland Head Coach Jordan Wood commented on his team’s performance.

“The missed tackles caught up with us. Missed tackles and a lack of execution. The game plan was there but apparently, we didn’t practice well enough because everything we drew up and everything we prepared for, was exactly what we got. We just had no execution. It starts with the coaching staff and practice,” Coach Wood said.

“It was the same thing defensively,” he continued. “We had a decent game plan but we just didn’t tackle. It doesn’t matter how good of a game plan you have, if you can’t execute it.”

Asked what he told his team after the game, Wood replied, “It starts with me and we are going to get it fixed tomorrow, starting with the coaching staff. We are going to figure out what we can practice and execute. I also told them they are not going to like me for a while because we are going to do things my way, from top to bottom. That is going to be executing, tackling at practice and playing fast. Things we didn’t do tonight. I told the team – and they responded well – we are going to work and they better come prepared with the right mentality. We are going to put a product on the football field that we can be proud of.”

Grapeland is back in action on Friday, Oct. 8 as they take on the Groveton Indians in Groveton. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.

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