Oak Grove holds off Grain Valley
By Tyler Brown The Examiner
A down Grain Valley team did not come into Oak Grove feeling sorry for themselves against the defending state champs Friday night.
The Eagles took a lead into the half before eventually falling to the Panthers in a game that came down to the last drive. After Grain Valley (3-5) crossed into Panther territory with less than three minutes to go, down five, Oak Grove (6-2) got after them for a 5-yard tackle in the backfield and a forced incompletion. Oak Grove defeated its rival 31-26.
“I'm very proud of our guys,” Grain Valley head coach David Allie said. “We came out and I think we matched them physically. They get off the football and they play old school football. We matched them toe to toe the whole game. I saw a team grow up tonight.”
Two rushing touchdowns and a kick return to the house from senior Isaiah Duong guided the Eagles to a 20-19 lead going into the half. One of Duong's scoring rushes went for 59 and the other for 53.
“In the past he's been kind of snake bit,” Allie said. “We got him loose a few times last season, a few times this season, but it always seems to get called back. He works his tail off.”
Other than Duong's breakaways, the Grain Valley offense put up a mild 73 rushing yards on the 31 other attempts. Senior running back Mason Smith provided a spark in the fourth quarter, rushing for 28 yards on five attempts, but other than that, the Eagles could not get the normal ground game going. Senior running back Zack Ehlen earned negative eight yards on nine rushes after rushing for 141 against Excelsior Springs last week.
“I think the whole key to the ball game was we pursued to the ball better than we have all year,” Oak Grove head coach Pat Richard said. “They'd miss one of our kids, but then there's three guys they got to miss, too, and they didn't miss them.”
While the Eagles were the ones off to the quick start, the Panthers showed consistency through the meat of the game. They had a five-drive span that started with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter to just more than two minutes to go in the third that all resulted in touchdowns.
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