Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dunwoody drops the ball in loss to LaGrange


LaGrange, capitalizing on back-to-back fumble recoveries to shift momentum in the third quarter, upset previously undefeated Dunwoody 20-5 in the Class AAA quarterfinals Friday at North DeKalb Stadium.

The Grangers (11-2) are returning to the state semifinals for the first time since 2005. For a program like LaGrange, it feels like it’s been even longer.

“It seems like 100 years ago,” Grangers coach Steve Pardue said. “It was 2005. It seems like a long time ago.”

A Final Four berth appeared to be within Dunwoody’s grasp following a hard-fought, conservative first half. The Wildcats (12-1) traded field position with LaGrange until the safe play yielded a 32-yard field goal by junior Austin Breed.

But 23 pivotal seconds in the third quarter turned Dunwoody’s season around.

LaGrange defensive end Tristian Johnson recovered quarterback Erick Cooper’s fumble at the 8:41 mark and rumbled in for a 20-yard score.

Then Dunwoody fumbled again on its next possession. LaGrange quarterback Rodney Tolbert immediately scrambled in for a 17-yard score. Just like that, the Grangers led 13-3 with 8:18 left in the third.

“That’s Granger football right there,” Pardue said. “The kids got kind of down there at the half. We were down 3-0, and I told the kids, you know when you get this far, there’s not many bad teams out there. Play hard, and we can win.”

Dunwoody, which was playing without its top three tailbacks, went pass-heavy and found a way to stay in the game. Wildcats defensive back Breon Isaac sacked Tolbert in the end zone for a safety in the early minutes of the fourth quarter.

But instead of marching down the field for a potential tying score, Dunwoody fumbled again on a botched handoff on its next possession. Two plays later, LaGrange tailback Darren Hairston broke off a 67-yard touchdown run to seal the victory.

“We had opportunities, even with all those mistakes,” Dunwoody coach James Teter said. “We had opportunities but we didn’t take advantage of them.”

No comments: