LaGrange opens with big win

Published 12:27 am Saturday, August 24, 2019


Daily News

FRANKLIN – They took down the champs.

The LaGrange Grangers opened the season with an impressive 24-9 victory over the defending Class AA state-champion Heard County Braves on Friday night.

Heard County surged to an early 9-0 lead, but the rest of the game belonged to LaGrange, which began the season with a win for the first time since 2015.

Senior quarterback Charles Crawford had a big night for LaGrange with a touchdown pass and a scoring run, and he also did a terrific job punting.

Kale Gibbs added a touchdown run for LaGrange, and Kaleb Ceja made a field goal and three extra points.

LaGrange is off next week, and it will play Callaway on Sept. 6.

“It’s incredibly important, it’s special,” Crawford said of getting the season started with a win. “I don’t think anybody on this team has started 1-0. Just having that confidence going into the off week, having that confidence going into the Callaway game is huge.”

Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange’s second-year head coach, also felt it was critical for the team to find some early success.

“We haven’t been 1-0 in a long time,” Gibbs said. “To open a season that way against the defending state champion at their place, that’s what it’s all about. It’ll give them a little confidence. They’ll come to practice ready to work hard next week.”

Adrian Traylor, who had two interceptions for LaGrange, felt the effort the players put in during the summer paid dividends on Friday night.

“Throughout the whole summer, we were working hard,” Traylor said. “I feel like we came together as a team today, because we knew we had to get this win. We were really the underdog coming into the game, so we knew we had to work hard to get this W.”

Early on in Friday’s game it was all Heard, which scored on its first two possessions to take a 9-0 lead.

After making a field goal the first time they had the ball, the Braves went up 9-0 on a 42-yard pass from Leroy Marsh to Micaiah Austin with 7:01 left in the first quarter.

It was still a 9-0 game when the Heard County punter inadvertently put his knee down before kicking the ball, giving LaGrange the ball at the 10-yard line.

The Grangers didn’t score a touchdown, but Ceja made a 25-yard field goal with 7:37 to play in the first half to get his team on the board.

On Heard County’s ensuing possession, Qua Bowles sacked Marsh on third down, and LaGrange took over at its own 40-yard line following the punt.

Crawford hooked up with Traylor for a 20-yard completion to put the ball in Heard County territory.

A few plays later, Crawford tossed a perfect pass in the waiting arms of Karcher for a 20-yard touchdown, and Ceja converted the extra point to give LaGrange a 10-9 lead with 1:45 to play in the second quarter, and that was the score at the halftime break.

The second half was all LaGrange.

While Heard County’s offense was held without a first down, LaGrange moved the ball well and scored two more touchdowns.

With less than four minutes left in the third quarter, Gibbs took a handoff from Crawford, and he hit the left sideline and outraced the Heard County defense for a 47-yard touchdown, and LaGrange led 17-9.

In the fourth quarter, Traylor had his second interception of the game, setting up LaGrange’s final touchdown.

Crawford completed the 50-yard drive with a 36-yard touchdown run, and with Ceja’s extra point LaGrange was ahead 24-9 with 5:38 to play.

Heard County’s final possession ended with a lost fumble, and LaGrange nearly ran out the clock before Crawford punted one final time.