When the Glen Rose Tigers look back on their 33-19 season-opening football loss to Grandview last Friday night, it will stick in their minds as one that got away.
The Tigers (0-1) started fast and led 19-6 after the first quarter behind three touchdown passes from quarterback Cameron Griffin to Dakota Paschall and Tyler Torres (twice).
But the Tigers were held scoreless in the final three quarters, despite getting inside the 30 yard line four times in the second half, losing for the third straight time to Grandview.
“Grandview found another gear (defensively) when we got into the red zone and that’s what we talked to the guys about,” Glen Rose football coach Cliff Watkins said. “We have to find that extra gear. We’ve got to find a way to get into the end zone. That’s the one thing that we’re pushing this week — finishing drives.”
The Tigers will look to get into the win column Friday night (Sept. 8) when they host the Waco Connally Cadets (0-1), who lost to Gatesville 38-14 in their season opener last weekend. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.
“I think the big thing for us is just to concentrate on the Tigers and us getting better,” Watkins said. “If we can get better and get in better game shape, and finish drives, and not turn the ball over then we’ll put ourselves in a good position.”
Glen Rose dropped a 34-22 decision to the Cadets last year in Waco.
“I’d be real worried if we saw a lot of stuff on film that we couldn’t fix, but that’s not how it is. It’s stuff that is very fixable,” Watkins said. “We are going to learn from our mistakes. That’s the one thing we preach to our guys all the time. We have to fix our mistakes.”
On Friday night, the Tigers had their chances to get back into the game. Four times in the second half, the Tigers got inside the Grandview 30 and each time they came up empty.
Glen Rose trailed 20-19 at halftime, and after an interception by Drayden James on the Zebras’ first possession of the second half, the Tigers drove the ball to the Grandview 5-yard line before Kamron English intercepted a Glen Rose pass.
Five plays later, the Zebras — thanks in part to a 74-yard pass completion — scored to take a 27-19 lead with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Following a three-and-out by the Tigers, the Zebras scored for the final time in the game with just over three minutes left in the third quarter to build the 14-point advantage — and the Zebra defense made it stand.
Behind a 35-yard reception by Jess Neidziela and a pair of 10-yard runs by Weston Halcom, the Tigers drove inside the Grandview 30 before losing the ball on downs following an illegal forward pass that resulted in a loss of down, and an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-14.
The Glen Rose defense — despite giving up four touchdowns of 31 yards or more in the game — came up big and stopped the Zebras on downs after they drove inside the Tiger 40 early in the fourth quarter.
Halcom, who tallied 137 yards on 22 carries in the game, was the workhorse in the ensuing drive with 38 yards in the eight-play drive that came to an end on downs again inside the Grandview 30 on a pair of incomplete passes.
On defense, Paschall got the ball back for the Tigers on an interception with 2:30 left in the game, and the Tiger offense methodically marched to the Grandview 12 before an interception by Grandview’s Earnest Crownover — his second of the night — ended the drive.
In his first varsity career start for the Tigers, Griffin completed 15-of-32 passes for 229 yards and three scores with three interceptions. Paschall finished with a team-high five catches for 87 yards and a score, while Torres had four receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Tanner Stroud led the Tigers with 17 tackles, while Bryan Pounds and Ricky Douglas added 14 and 11 stops, respectively. Stroud and Jake Andersen each recorded a sack.