Written by Alex Langan of The Southerner
The Grady Grey Knights beat the Riverwood Raiders 15-14 with the game winning score coming on an 80 yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Caylin Newton to senior wide receiver Jacquez Sloan and a successful two point conversion from the same pair. Riverwood came into the game with a 4-4 record but was able to force a tough game on the road against the now 8-1 Knights.
Next week, Grady travels to College Park, Ga. to face 5-4 Banneker in its final game of the regular season.
The game did not start off great for the Knights, as the opening kickoff from senior kicker Max Menzies was returned 85 yards for a touchdown for Riverwood. In the ensuing possesion, Grady started on its own 30-yard line, but seven penalties on the Knights forced a 2nd down and 39 from the Grady 10-yard line in which the Knights could not pick up the first down and were forced to punt.
Riverwood set up shop at the Grady 42-yard line and drove the ball into the redzone, but were stopped on 3rd down by the Knights defense and were forced to kick a field goal. The Riverwood field goal try was blocked and returned by senior defensive back Dimarcus Clay to the Grady 30-yard line. This proved to be the spark the Knights needed as the offense drove down the field and scored a touchdown on a 47-yard catch-and-run with Clay lined up at tailback and catching Newton’s screen pass and running it into the endzone. Menzies would add the extra point to tie the game up at 7-7 with 1:22 left in the 1st quarter.
After exchanging punts and turnover on downs for the rest of the first half, the second half kickoff was returned by Grady to the its own 35-yard line. The offense, however, failed to get a first down and were forced to punt. The snap on the punt was then mishandled by senior punter Calder Johnson, allowing the Raiders to take over on the Grady 20-yard line. Riverwood made the most of this mistake by the Knights as sophomore running back Trey Young scored a touchdown from five yards out to put the Raiders up 14-7 midway through the 3rd quarter.
After both teams again exchanged punts on their ensuing possessions, Riverwood took over at the Grady 48-yard line. After a 30-yard run by Young, the Raiders had a 1st down at the Grady 4-yard line. Two plays later it had appeared that Young had scored another touchdown to put the Raiders up by two scores, but the run was called back for holding. The Knights defense then held the Raiders on 3rd down to force another chip shot field goal. Riverwood again missed their field goal and Grady took over on their own 20-yard line with 9:39 left in the 4th quarter.
Grady did not waste any time capitalizing off the missed field goal as Newton threw deep to Sloan on the first play who hauled in the pass and ran into the endzone for the 80-yard score. Newton found Sloan again for the two-point conversion, putting Grady up by a score of 15-14.
On the kickoff following the long score, junior kicker Quinn Cowden sent the ball near the sideline and the Riverwood returner dropped the ball and it landed out of bounds, forcing the Raiders to start on their own 12-yard line. Riverwood, however, could not score on this drive, as they only wasted time on its way to try to score. Grady would take over after an incomplete pass on a fake punt from the Riverwood 44-yard line with 2:57 left to play.
Grady would then run out the clock and end the game after picking a 4th and 1 on a pass to Sloan, giving the Knights a 15-14 victory on senior night.
Despite the win, the Grady coaching staff is looking to improve upon the players’ fundamentals before the playoffs.
“It’s always good to get a win,” head coach Earthwind Moreland said. “We’ve got a lot of things we can work on and get better at. We’ve got to definitely get better at it very quickly because the playoffs are fastly approaching, so we definitely have got to make sure that we pick up the pace, and we’ve got to pick it up right now. [We are looking to improve on our] penalties, tackling, not putting ourselves into bad situations, just doing the right things.”