Another heart-breaker for Grangers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s been the story of the season.
The LaGrange Grangers have been competitive in nearly every game they’ve played, but they’ve only been able to cross the winning threshold once.
LaGrange suffered another tough loss on Thursday, falling 3-2 to Sandy Creek in a Region 5-AAAA showdown at Callaway Stadium.
The Patriots took the lead with a field goal in the second quarter, and the Grangers got on the board with a safety late in the opening half.
That was it.
The Grangers made it to the Patriots’ 41-yard line late in the game, but they turned it over on downs when a fourth-down play failed.
LaGrange got the ball one final time following a Sandy Creek punt with less than a minute remaining, but it couldn’t advance the ball past midfield before the clock struck zero.
It was the third time this season the Grangers lost a game by three points or fewer, and they were as close as seven points late in games against Heard County and Callaway.
Outside of an 8-6 win over Hampton, though, LaGrange has been on the losing end each week, and it will carry a 1-7 record into next Friday’s home game against Chapel Hill.
LaGrange’s season ends with a home game against Shaw on Nov. 2.
“Your heart just breaks for the seniors,” said Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange’s first-year head coach. “They’ve had a rough go, and they’ve never tasted consistent success since they’ve been here. They fight. We play with everybody.”
LaGrange opened its region schedule with a 13-10 loss to Central-Carroll, and it followed that up with a 9-6 setback against Cedartown.
After losing to Cartersville 45-7, LaGrange was within 14 points in the second half last week before falling to Troup 35-14.
“At the end of the day, we’re not giving teams anything,” Gibbs said. “We had one of these games with Cedartown, and it was the same with Central. These games can go either way. It’s emotional. You never understand why. You only have to tell them that these seniors have set the standard for hard work. They’ve set the standard for grit.”
Unfortunately for the Grangers, that grit and determination hasn’t translated into success from a win-loss standpoint.
“That’s our season,” Gibbs said. “We’ve been this close. It’s not horse shoes or hand grenades, so close doesn’t count.”
The Grangers had their best offensive success on the opening drive when they drove from their own 20-yard line to the Patriots’ 23 before missing a field goal.
Senior Jakoby Smith did a lot of the work on the drive with five carries for 23 yards, and he also had a 7-yard catch from Charles Crawford.
The Patriots put their only points on the board with 8:17 to play in the first half on a 27-yard field goal by David Gonzales.
It was still a 3-0 game when the Patriots lined up to punt deep in their own territory.
The snap sailed over the punter’s head and the ball went through the end zone for a safety, and the Grangers were on the board in the waning moments of the first half.
In the fourth quarter, the Patriots appeared to hit on a touchdown pass from Matthew Williams to Roney Howard, but the play was disallowed because of offensive pass interference.
Two plays later, LaGrange freshman defensive lineman Ka’Various Perry came through with a sack to force a long field-goal attempt that didn’t find the target.
Still down by one, the Grangers finally got something going, with Crawford completing back-to-back passes of 16 and 12 yards to Jordan Ogletree to put the ball in Patriots’ territory.
When a fourth-down play failed, though, Sandy Creek took over at its own 41 with 4:04 to play.
LaGrange’s defense, which has been a strength of the team all season, got the ball right back by recovering a fumble on the Sandy Creek side of the field.
It was fourth-and-one on the 32-yard line when LaGrange was stuffed for no gain, and Sandy Creek regained possession.
By the time the Grangers got the ball for the final time on their own 32-yard line, there was only 42 seconds left and they were out of timeouts.
Crawford completed a 16-yard pass to Ogletree to get the ball near midfield when time expired.
OF NOTE: For more photos, check out Facebook.com/LDNSports