Oak Grove rolls past Grain Valley
By Mike Genet The Examiner
Make no mistake, even with a brief rally in the third quarter by visiting Grain Valley, Oak Grove’s 49-22 victory Friday was every bit as convincing as the score indicated.
But while the Class 3 fifth-ranked Panthers improved to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Missouri River Valley Conference West, Oak Grove coach Pat Richard can pinpoint some improvements needed before next week’s regular season finale at Excelsior Springs, with a share of the conference title and a top seed for the playoffs still a possibility.
Before the cold rain stopped after halftime, the Panthers fumbled away two of their first three possessions, and had another in second quarter that started at Grain Valley’s 38 but ended on downs.
Regardless, Grain Valley (3-5, 0-4) couldn’t mount much resistance to the Oak Grove rushing attack, which ground out 411 yards on 64 attempts.
“We’ve got some work to do this week,” Richard said. “We’ve got to do a better job finishing when we have the opportunity.
“We can’t turn the ball over in the rain. we get in the playoffs we’ll get some bad weather, and we can’t fumble it.”
Aaron Graham was the rushing ringleader with 203 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries for Oak Grove, while fellow halfback Ethan Fugitt rumbled for 121 yards on 19 tries and fullback Tyler Brown added 54 yards on 12 totes, each scoring a TD.
Quarterback Austin Blackston didn’t attempt a second-half pass and completed just 3 of 11, but that included a 64-yard scoring connection with tight end Tanner Kanak.
“Our offense has been rolling,” Fugitt said. “The rain kind of kept us from passing or running outside (pitch sweeps) much.
“We just need to focus. It’s playoff weather, and we’ve got to get ready for it. In the playoffs, whoever turns the ball over less wins the game, and we want to be that team.”
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