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Defense a bright sport for Grangers

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – It wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for, but there were bright spots for the LaGrange Grangers in their season-opening loss to Callaway.

Most notably, LaGrange’s defense fared well in the 26-0 loss to Callaway.

Callaway scored two offensive touchdowns.

One came on a 62-yard pass play to Courtney Williams where he came down with the ball despite being covered by two defenders.

Callaway’s other touchdown came at the end of a 48-yard drive in the second half.

The Cavaliers also got a field goal in the first half, and their other points came on a blocked field-goal attempt for a touchdown, and a safety on a blocked punt.

LaGrange defensive coordinator Sam Honeyman said “we played well” and that the defensive players “ran to the ball very well.”

Honeyman added that the team needs “to clean up some missed tackles, but that’s early-season football.”

One of LaGrange’s defensive highlights came in the first half when senior Jeremiah Holloway sacked Callaway quarterback Kedrick Ramsey and forced a fumble that was recovered by freshman Jaquez Smith.

Unfortunately for the Grangers, they were unable to take advantage of that break by putting points on the board.

After gaining eight yards, the Grangers attempted a field goal, and it was blocked and returned for a touchdown by DQ Wilkerson, and the Cavaliers had a 10-0 lead.

A short time later, Callaway scored on the 62-yard pass play to take a 17-0 lead at the half.

In the second half, the Cavaliers recovered a fumble in Granger territory and drove 48 yards for a touchdown.

Junior linebacker Dexter Fitzpatrick led the Grangers with seven tackles, including three tackles for loss.

Senior defensive back Dezhaun Artis also had seven tackles, and junior defensive back Jakoby Smith had five tackles.

Linebackers Omar Atcherson and Dazmon Williams and defensive back Vondez Taylor each had four tackles, and Holloway had three tackles.

LaGrange limited Callaway running back DJ Atkins, who had more than 2,000 yards last season, to fewer than 50 yards.

Callaway’s offense, meanwhile, was held to around 200 total yards.

While LaGrange’s defense was up to the challenge, the offense is a work in progress.

The Grangers didn’t have any sustained drives in the game, and they finished with fewer than 100 total yards.

In the fourth quarter, LaGrange quarterback Charles Crawford completed 11-yard passes to Quentaveious Swanson and Jordan Ogletree, but that drive ended on the Callaway 27-yard line when a fourth-down play failed.

Senior running back Cornell Kendrick had a handful of nice runs, but LaGrange’s ground game was mostly held in check.

“The defense played very well,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said.

“Offensively, we’re still trying to find our niche. I like that we’re running the football,” Burks added. “We want to do some things in the passing game. We had some drops. We had some pressures which caused (Crawford) to throw the ball (early).”

LaGrange will have a chance to even its record when it hosts Villa Rica on Friday.