Grangers drop season finale
Published 11:24 pm Thursday, November 7, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The LaGrange Grangers, facing a determined opponent as well as monsoon-like conditions for much of Thursday’s game at Callaway Stadium, fell to the Shaw Raiders 15-7 in their season finale.
Trailing 9-0, LaGrange got within two late in the third quarter on a Caleb Ross touchdown run and a Kaleb Ceja extra point, but Shaw extended its lead to eight with a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
The Grangers got the ball one last time with more than three minutes to play with an opportunity to tie it with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but they were unable to make it happen.
After an unsuccessful fourth-down play, Shaw ran one kneel-down play and the clock ran out.
It was a tough ending to a challenging season for the Grangers, who finished with a 2-8 record.
LaGrange was 2-1 after a home win over Hampton, but it closed the season on a seven-game losing streak.
Over the past four seasons, the Grangers have a combined six wins.
“It hurts real bad, and it stings,” said Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange’s second-year head coach. “You realize that we’re going to do things different. We don’t want to keep losing. You want to change the culture, you want to change the program.”
The Grangers made things interesting in the second half.
With Shaw leading 9-0 and with the ball, Charles Miller came through with an interception to give possession back to LaGrange.
On a second-down play, Ross took a handoff from Charles Crawford and ripped off a 30-yard run, and he carried a handful of Shaw defenders with him for about the last 10 yards.
With the ball on the 10-yard line, the Grangers though they’d scored on a Dylan Norvell run, but a holding penalty negated the score.
Backed up to the 23-yard line, Crawford hooked up with Adrian Traylor for a 15-yard completion.
On fourth down, Crawford’s 4-yard run on fourth down gave LaGrange a first down at the 5-yard line, and two plays later, Ross scored on a 2-yard run.
Ceja’s extra-point attempt split the uprights, and with 1:19 to play in the third quarter, Shaw’s lead was 9-7.
That’s the way it remained until quarterback Wason Davis scored on a 1-yard keeper, giving Shaw a 15-7 lead with seven minutes to play.
After the teams swapped punts, the Grangers began their final possession at their 32-yard line with 3:04 to play.
On fourth down, Crawford connected with Traylor for a first-down pass into Shaw territory, but LaGrange was called for an illegal man downfield penalty.
Faced with another fourth-down play the Grangers were unable to convert, and they turned the ball over with less than a minute remaining and no timeouts left.
In the first half, a stingy defense kept LaGrange in the game.
Three times in the first half the Raiders were inside the Grangers’ 10-yard line, but they only got a field goal out of those possessions.
In the final minute of the first half Shaw was inside the 5-yard line when it was stuffed on fourth down, and LaGrange headed into the halftime break trailing 3-0.
The Raiders padded their lead early in the third quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run by Amir Harper, and the two-point attempt failed,
The Grangers made it to the Raiders’ 24-yard line on their first possession of the second half before they turned it over on downs.
The Grangers got the ball right back on Miller’s interception, setting them up at midfield, leading to their lone touchdown.
“I thought we had a real good game plan coming into tonight,” Gibbs said. “We tried to get some of our seniors back (from injuries), but you could tell when you’ve got hurt lineman you’re not going to block as good, so we didn’t execute a couple of plays we could have. We stopped drives in the first half when we should have had points on the board. We dropped a couple of passes, made a couple of bad reads. We held together, it’s just tough when you’re not able to put points on the board.”
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