GRAHAM - After driving 69 yards and getting to the two-yard line with 1:18 remaining in the contest, the Glen Rose Tigers (4-1) found themselves leading the Graham Steers (1-3) 35-33.
Graham was still holding onto two timeouts when Glen Rose reached the red zone, and Head Coach Tommy Dunn decided to take those timeouts completely out of play for the Steers.
“They were trying to let us score,” said Dunn. “If we scored right there, we are up by eight, nine with the extra point. I wanted to take their timeouts out of play. Worst case scenario is if we don’t score, they have to go 98 yards with no timeouts in about 20 seconds; I like those odds.”
Quarterback Derek Thompson knelt on the ball on first and second downs to force Graham out of timeouts.
The idea was for the Tigers to punch it from two-yards and be done with it, but things took a very different turn.
Thompson fumbled the center exchange on third down, and Chase Evatt was stopped one yard shy of the goal on the fourth down sweep play.
Graham now had the opportunity to drive the ball 99 yards in 24 seconds with no timeouts.
The prevent defense gave up a 23-yard run and two completions for 29 yards, but Graham couldn’t go the distance as Glen Rose came away with the two-point victory.
“Was it risky? Yes,” said Dunn. “But I played the percentages, and I really thought that with two shots at scoring, we would’ve scored.”
The Glen Rose offense stepped up last week, led by Evatt who carried the ball a season-high 24 times for 171 yards and a touchdown.
Thompson was a distant second on the team with 14 carries for 58 yards, but did scamper for two scores.
The Tigers as a team ran the ball 42 times and racked up 248 yards.
“It all points to the offensive line,” said Dunn. “If they give us certain looks on defense which tells us we need to run to run the ball, then they have to perform so the back can find a crease. They have a good feel for each other, and Chase (Evatt) really does a good job of reading his linemen and hitting the crease. He’s not very big so he can get through some very small creases, and tonight they were really concerned early about our passing game, so we ran.”
The passing game was quiet, but effective.
Thompson threw the ball only 18 times but completed 11 of them for 205 yards and two touchdowns. He also tossed an interception which led to a Graham score.
Thompson once again didn’t shy away from finding Ty Taylor, who hauled in three receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.
The air attack struggled in the first half, but bounced back in the second.
“We did have some dropped passes, but those same kids came back and made some huge plays,” said Dunn. “I know Jorge Espino had a couple of negative plays early, but then he came back and made a spectacular catch on the sideline and ran it in. That’s the type of player the he can become. I think we’ve progressed well. Our passing game really didn’t bombard them, but when we did throw it was very effective.”
The defense made a dramatic goal line stand to end the first half that ended up saving the game.
With just under a minute left in the half, Graham’s Cameron Bailey took the handoff on the Glen Rose 22-yard line. The only defender between him and the end zone was Immanuel Morales, who wrapped him up on the 10-yard line to save the score.
Three plays later, with 4 seconds remaining on the clock and Graham expected to receive the ball after the break, the defense slammed the door on the one-yard line to save a touchdown and send the Tigers into locker room with a 21-14 lead.
“It was huge,” said Dunn of the big defensive stand. “We blew a touchdown down there, so it cancelled those two scores out. Our defense just slammed into the middle and didn’t let any penetration through. That ball was inside the one-yard line, and it’s hard to keep somebody out down there. Our defense was outstanding.”
The defense put pressure on Case McCoy - younger brother of record-setting University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy - all night, including three sacks from Seth Mann, Servando Escolera and Chris Griggers.
McCoy finished the night only 18-of-37 passing for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He was also picked off by Morales in the third quarter.
Glen Rose will take Friday off, and will pick up the action at 7:30 p.m. on October 10 as they travel to West to begin the District 7-3A season.