LaGrange falls just short of first win

Published 1:55 pm Monday, October 30, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

DOUGLASVILLE – It was there for the taking.

For the first time all season, the LaGrange Grangers found themselves late in the game with an opportunity to win.

In the third quarter, Cornell Kendrick’s touchdown run and Matt Rainey’s extra point gave the Grangers an 18-17 lead over the Chapel Hill Panthers.

It was the first time all year the Grangers had held a lead in the second half, and they were in position to possibly end a difficult and winless season on a positive note.

LaGrange still had a one-point lead when Chapel Hill took possession late in the fourth quarter deep in its own territory.

With quarterback K.J. Burton leading the way, Chapel drove for the winning touchdown to hand LaGrange a heart-breaking 25-18 loss.

Burton capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, and he also had the two-point conversion run to complete the scoring.

The Grangers got to midfield on their final possession before time ran out.

It was LaGrange’s finest performance of the season, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Chapel Hill (6-3 overall) improved to 3-2 in Region 5-AAAA, and it qualified for the state playoffs for the second straight year.

LaGrange finished 0-10 and 0-6 in the region.

Chapel Hill coach Justin DeShon was impressed with what he saw from LaGrange.

“I give them a lot of credit, coming in 0-9,” DeShon said. “They played their hearts out They took advantage of every opportunity we gave them to stay in the football game. LaGrange is a proud program, and they will be back.”

Trailing 17-8 at the half, the Grangers outscored the Panthers 10-0 in the third quarter to take the lead.

Rainey connected on a 26-yard field goal to cut Chapel Hill’s lead to 17-11.

Later in the third quarter, Jeremiah Holloway recovered a fumble, and LaGrange had the ball at the Chapel Hill 4-yard line.

On the next play, Kendrick powered his way into the end zone from four yards out, and Rainey’s extra point gave the Grangers the lead.

The Panthers had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, but a field goal was blocked by Vondez Taylor, and the Grangers were still ahead by one.

On the Panthers’ final drive, they faced a fourth-and-six in their own territory when Burton completed a 10-yard pass for a first down.

Burton completed his next three passes to put the ball on the LaGrange 24, and he followed that up with two runs for 20 yards to the 4-yard line.

The Panthers only needed a field goal to win it, but they weren’t thinking about that.

Burton’s 4-yard scoring run and the two-point conversion run gave the Panthers the lead, while sending the Grangers to a 10th straight loss.

In the first half, Chapel Hill built a 14-0 lead.

Burton had a 12-yard scoring run, and he threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Miles Richardson.

The Grangers answered.

Kendrick had a long run inside the Chapel Hill 10-yard line, and Charles Crawford threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Scott.

Crawford then completed a two-point pass to Koby Patton, and Chapel Hill’s lead was 14-8.

A 28-yard field goal by Francisco Uribe late in the second quarter gave Chapel Hill a 17-8 lead, which was the score at the half.

Crawford completed 5-of-14 passes for 57 yards with a touchdown, and the Grangers ran for 54 yards.

Burton was 8-of-18 for 121 yards, and he ran for 115 yards.