Bulletin Staff Report
GRAPE CREEK — The Bangs Dragons had to subdue an inspired Grape Creek Eagles squad, but the defense came up with the stops it needed while the offense took advantage of its opportunities to capture the team’s third District 6-2A win of the year.
But the Eagles, who absorbed their sixth district loss, managed to keep it close — at least for the first half.
“Like we told our kids, there’s no such thing as an ugly win,” Coach Eddie Pettit said. “We knew it was going to be tough coming here on Grape Creek’s home field. They had nothing to lose. Now we have to hope that the other games come out the way we need them (to make the playoffs), but we can’t control that. We’ve taken care of our business.”
Bangs picked up touchdowns from long-range on a punt return and a recovered fumble, but the offense also capped several solid drives with scores from close in.
The Dragons ground out 416 yards of offense — all on the ground — as Bradley Lee led all rushers with 183 yards on nine carries. DeShawn Johnson had 93 yards on 16 carried, and each runner scored a touchdown.
Grape Creek was led by quarterback Jacob Jones, who passed for 160 yards and one touchdown on an 11 of 19 performance. But he was picked off by Bangs three times. Donny Jones led Grape Creek rushers with 39 yards on 13 carries.
Grape Creek lost no time in showing the Dragons (4-5, 3-3) what they were up against by a long return of the opening kickoff and going on to notch the first points on a 5-yard run by Donny Jones with 9:12 left in the first quarter. The kick failed, but the Eagles owned an early 6-0 advantage.
Grape Creek appeared ready to score again from the 1-yard line, but Bangs turned the tide by recovering a fumble on the 3. The Dragons, working through some fumbles of their own, took the lead for good with 2:06 left in the first quarter when Lee evaded a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and raced 86 yards for a touchdown. The kick put Bangs up 7-6.
Bangs quarterback Justin Greenhaw added a touchdown on a 12-yard keeper with 5:35 left in the half, but the kick failed.
After Lee intercepted one of three Grape Creek passes the Dragons picked off, Bangs gave the ball to DeShawn Johnson for a 5-yard touchdown run. The 2-point attempt failed, but Bangs was ahead 19-6.
Grape Creek went into half-time with some momentum, though, after quarterback Jacob Jones scored on a 10-yard pass to Donny Jones with 58 seconds left, making it 19-12.
But when the teams returned to the field after intermission, it was all Bangs Dragons — after most of the third period was consumed in battle for field position.
Greenhaw took the ball over left tackle for the final yard with 1:07 left in the third, and Bangs led 25-12. Bangs’ Adrian Brown scooped up an Eagles fumble and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown with 11:28 left in the game, and the score stood at 31-12. Then Lee uncorked an 85-yard punt return with 8:51 left, and the kick made it 38-12.
After Bangs missed a field goal attempt — its first of the year — from the 16 with 1:53 left, Grape Creek drove the length of the field in an effort to score a consolation touchdown. But that threat ended when Kegan Oliver picked off a pass at the 7 with 52 seconds left, and the Dragons ran out the clock.
The lost left Grape Creek with a 2-7 mark for the season and winless in district after six games.
Bangs returns home to Memorial Stadium next Friday to host Wall, hoping that a victory there will give them a playoff spot.