Facing a strong Woodward Academy team in the opening round of the Class AAA state playoffs, the Grangers fell behind 31-0, and although they put together a late charge, they lost 44-25.
Quarterback Quinton Jackson threw four touchdown passes in the loss, with three of them going to Dee Smith.
“They fought hard in the second half,” LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said. “I think that we competed. We came out in the first half of the game just awful in all phases of the game,
offense, defense, kicking game and coaching. We got better in the second half.”
Things just weren’t clicking for the Grangers in the first half of the contest, and the War Eagles would take advantage.
After forcing the Grangers into a three-and-out on their opening drive, Woodward drove 64 yards in five plays before they were halted at the Grangers’ 10-yard line and forced to kick a field goal.
The Grangers’ next three possessions ended with an interception, a punt and a fumble.
The War Eagles, meanwhile, started to roll.
Kyle Hawkins and Quincy Wolff had touchdown runs, and quarterback Terrence Phillips threw a 29-yard scoring strike to Jollyce Myrick.
The War Eagles led 24-0 at the half.
“Our defense was playing well in the first half, we just couldn’t get off the field,” Branch said. “We were turning the ball over too much and our offense was just putting our defense in some bad situations.”
Things would get worse before they got better for the Grangers in the second half.
Starting from their own 45-yard line, it took the War Eagles only four plays before Phillips connected on his second touchdown pass of the night, this one from 29 yards out to Danny Bosse to make it 31-0.
The Grangers weren’t about to throw in the towel, though.
After a muffed punt return by Woodward, Jackson connected with Dee Smith from 20 yards out to put the Grangers on the board.
Riding the momentum, the Grangers would attempt on onside kick and come up successful, starting a new drive from the Woodward 45-yard line.
Five plays later, Jackson had his second touchdown pass of the night, this time hitting Javon Cameron in the corner of the end zone from 21 yards out to draw the Grangers closer 31-13 after a failed two-point conversion.
The comeback was stalled, though, when the War Eagles went 71 yards in five plays for a touchdown, culminating in Myrick’s second touchdown run of the night.
“They had a nice plan tonight and they really executed well,” Branch said. “We didn’t do a very good job defensively .”
The Grangers weren’t done fighting, as the Granger defense opened the fourth quarter strong with Benny Gray intercepting a pass in the end zone, which set up a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
Jackson capped the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Smith.
After the two-point conversion attempt failed, Woodward answered right back when Conor Pilch broke free and scampered for a 34 yard touchdown to give the War Eagles a 44-19 lead.
The Grangers still had fight left in the tank and embarked on another long drive, culminating with Jackson and Smith hooking up for the third time, this time form 28 yards out.
“Our guys fought hard tonight,” Branch said. “I just hate the outcome because I think that we are a lot better than how we played. We just came out and didn’t bring the same energy we had last week. We had a lot of guys come out and play hard tonight. I am proud of the effort, but hopefully we can build for the future.”