Grangers fall short in region opener

Published 12:36 am Saturday, September 23, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – The wait continues.

The LaGrange Grangers were hoping to break through for their first win of the season on homecoming night at Callaway Stadium, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Central-Carroll, which has enjoyed a nice turnaround this season after going winless a year ago, beat LaGrange 32-6 in the Region 5-AAAA opener for both teams.

LaGrange (0-5) will look for its elusive first win on Friday when it visits Cedartown.

“It’s a test of character. It really is,” LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks said. “Right now, we’re going to see where we are. We’re 0-1 in the region, and we’ve got five more games to go. Anything’s possible. It’s just are they going to keep believing? As long as we keep believing and working hard, anything can happen.”

It was a competitive game in the first half, with LaGrange trailing 7-0 at the break.

Central-Carroll began to pull away in the second half, though, and it built a 25-0 lead before LaGrange scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Central scored with less than two minutes remaining to cap the scoring.

“The position we’re in, it’s a test of character,” Burks said. “It’s a huge test. We’re going to continue to work. Sunday we’re going to come in like it’s 0-0, and we’ll keep chipping away.”

LaGrange drove 79 yards for its lone touchdown in the fourth quarter.

DeAndre Towns, making his first start of the season, completed four passes on the drive, including one of 23 yards to Andraka Martin for the touchdown.

Quentaveious Swanson had catches of 19, nine and 10 yards to help the Grangers get the ball deep in Central-Carroll territory.

Towns, a junior who transferred from Greenville, spent most of the game at quarterback, while sophomore Charles Crawford played three series.

Crawford, who started the first two games, had been out of action after suffering a concussion.

“Charles, coming off a concussion, we wanted to ease him in slowly,” Burks said. “He got some work and looked very good.

“DeAundre, we just wanted him to feel his way. The latter part of the game, he did that. He felt his way.”

Midway through the first quarter, the Grangers went for it on fourth down, and the played failed, and the Lions took over near midfield.

Six plays later, Miguel Esparza scored on a 3-yard run, and Tyler Anderson’s extra point made it a 7-0 game with 1:53 to play in the opening quarter.

The Grangers threatened in the second quarter.

After Towns completed a 28-yard pass to Jordan Ogletree, the Grangers had the ball at the Lions’ 34-yard line.

Two plays later, though, a fumble gave the ball back to Central-Carroll.

The Lions drove then deep into LaGrange territory, but senior linebacker Dazmon Williams came up with an interception to end that threat.

The Grangers had the ball first in the second half hoping to put something together.

Instead, they went backward because of a penalty and a sack, and Martin was tackled in the end zone for a safety, and Central-Carroll led 9-0.

After the free kick, the Lions went 42 yards for the touchdown, with Malcolm Brown scoring on a 12-yard run, and Anderson’s kick gave Central a 16-0 lead with 9:04 to play in the third quarter.

A 22-yard completion from Crawford to Ogletree helped LaGrange get to midfield on the ensuing possession, but the drive stalled.

Following a punt, Central’s offense went back to work, going 80 yards for the touchdown.

After a Jamarcus Strange 32-yard run, Braden Dunson scored on a 2-yard run, and Anderson’s kick extended the lead to 23-0 with 3:25 to play in the third quarter.

The Grangers went three-and-out when they got the ball back, but they caught a break when the Lions fumbled the punt return after a long return.

LaGrange was unable to take advantage of that break.

Crawford lost control of the ball and was tackled in the end zone for a safety and Central was up 25-0 with 1:44 to play in the third quarter.

The Grangers kept fighting.

After the free kick following the safety, LaGrange’s Jakoby Smith forced a fumble.

The Grangers couldn’t move the ball and punted, but the defense once again stopped the Lions.

Following a punt, LaGrange put together its touchdown drive, with Towns looking comfortable in the pocket.

The Lions answered with a touchdown of their own, with Dunson scoring on a 3-yard run, and Anderson’s extra point capped the scoring with 1:49 to play.