Grangers, Braves welcome in new football season
LAGRANGE – They got to take a test run.
With a new season less than two weeks away, the LaGrange Grangers hit the turf of Callaway Stadium on Friday night for the first of their two preseason games.
Friday’s opponent was Heard County, which presented a challenge largely because of the presence of junior quarterback Emory Jones, who has committed to Ohio State.
The Grangers did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball in the 20-13 loss, and there will also be plenty they need to work on when they return to the practice field on Monday.
“Offensively, we’ve still got some kinks to work out,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said. ” It takes longer for the offense to come together. Defensively, we’ve just got to wrap up and tackle. We were in position to make plays, we just have to tackle. That’s an easy fix. It’s harder to fix when you’re not in position.”
Jones, showing the skills that have made him such a coveted player, threw two long touchdown passes in the first half, and the Braves also got a field goal to take a 17-0 lead at the break.
The Braves got another field goal midway through the third quarter to build the lead to 20-0, and that’s when the Grangers rallied.
The Grangers scored a pair of touchdowns to get within seven, and they got to the Heard County 20-yard line in the closing moments before a fourth-down play failed.
It was the backup players who got LaGrange back into the game, and that didn’t surprise Burks.
“They do it every day in practice,” Burks said. “Those guys who we played in the third and fourth quarter are what we call the scout-team guys. But they’re not scout-team in my mind. They can come and perform. And it showed.”
After falling behind 20-0, the Grangers put together their most impressive drive of the game with freshman quarterback Charles Crawford in the game.
Crawford was one of four LaGrange quarterbacks who played, joining starter Amad Ogletree, Nathan Cronic and Jacoby Smith, and they all did some good things.
With Crawford in the game, the Grangers went 70 yards in 14 plays, and it was Cornell Kendrick capping the drive with a 1-yard scoring run.
Crawford completed a pair of passes on the drive to sophomore Jamari Thrash, and Daz Williams did some nice work on the ground.
When the Grangers got close, Kendrick had an 8-yard run, and he scored on the next play.
After the Grangers recovered a fumble on the Braves’ 32-yard line, they needed just two plays to score again, and it was Myles Johnson getting it done.
Johnson had a 21-yard run on first down, and on the next play, he broke a handful of tackles and scored on an 11-yard run, and after a missed extra point, Heard County’s lead was 20-13 with 10:13 to play.
The Grangers took possession for the final time at midfield with 3:30 remaining, and Crawford completed a couple of passes and had a 17-yard run to put the ball on the 20-yard line.
After four incomplete passes, Heard County took possession, and it ran one play and the clock ran out.
OF NOTE: For more on Friday’s game, see Monday’s sports section, and for more photos, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports