The LaGrange Grangers, hopeful of getting their Region 5-AAAA started with a win over Shaw, were staring at a 7-0 deficit late in the first half of Friday’s game at Callaway Stadium.
LaGrange’s offense was having trouble getting on track, and Shaw was moving the ball well when it had the ball.
The Grangers needed a spark, and they got it when defensive lineman Dazmon Dunlap sacked Shaw quarterback Chandler Whittlesey in the end zone for a safety to make it a 7-2 game.
Clete Miller then came through with a nice return on the free kick, and the Grangers marched into the end zone for their first touchdown, and the two-point conversion game them a 10-7 lead at the break.
The Grangers kept the momentum going in the third quarter with three touchdowns, giving them 31 unanswered points.
LaGrange (2-2) went on to win 31-14 to move to 1-0 in region play.
The Grangers will try to stay perfect in the region when they face the Columbus Blue Devils Thursday night at Kinnett Stadium.
LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said he was pleased to see his team handle adversity well against Shaw after losing two close games earlier in the season.
“We’ve lost two football games because, when adversity hit, we didn’t handle it well,” Branch said. “We had probably about 17 or 18 minutes of adversity, and then we made a play. Dazmon Dunlap made a play. We had a great return by Clete Miller, and the offense put together a great drive and a two-point conversion, and it was on.
“We scored 31 unanswered points. You couldn’t have drawn it up any better for what we needed to get out of that game.”
After the sluggish start, LaGrange’s offense was unstoppable once it got rolling.
Quarterback Zach Giddens, who is having a terrific junior season, completed 14-of-18 passes for around 180 yards with a pair of touchdowns, and the Grangers ran for more than 260 yards.
Junior Benny Gray had a phenomenal game, rushing for 177 yards with a 52-yard scoring run.
Demoton Boyd also had a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Grangers’ other scores came through the air, with Giddens completing touchdown passes of 17 yards to Corey Perkins and 16 yards to Tavone Rivers.
“We were really efficient (offensively),” Branch said. “I love it when the ball goes to different people. That’s a defensive coach’s nightmare. I thought it was a really good performance. And our offensive line blocked well.”
LaGrange’s defense also had a nice night.
Whittlesey had a solid outing with 190 yards in the air, and he ran for one touchdown and threw for another.
He was also sacked four times, though, as LaGrange dominated the line of scrimmage.
As for Thursday’s game, LaGrange is facing a Columbus team that has struggled mightily this season.
The Blue Devils are 0-4, and they were beaten by Carrollton 66-0 in their first region game last week.
In their four games combined, Columbus has been outscored by an average score of 49-8.
“We want to come out and absolutely dominate from the get-go,” Branch said. “And then we’ve worked the heck out of our young kids. We’re trying to get them where they can do a better job when they get in games. Our plan is to come flying out of the gate and hopefully get to play a bunch of kids.”
“I’d be really disappointed if we don’t just come out rolling, I mean playing well, physical on defense, executing both sides and just be really sharp for 24 minutes.”