MAYFIELD — With each team possessing a big-yardage running back and rain all through the afternoon and early evening soaking the stadium, the Friday night showdown between Class 5A First District rivals Graves County and Grayson County was expected to be a messy, ground-based affair.
Mason Grant made sure this contest did not meet those expectations, much to the delight of Eagles fans. The junior wide receiver made quite the impact with five catches for 143 yards. That included two touchdowns in the second quarter that broke the Cougars and earned Graves County the 45-0 triumph.
"We just came out and do what we do," Grant said after the game. "We knew we could beat them. We just had to show it."
Besides keeping Grayson off the scoreboard, the Eagles also limited the productivity from senior Cougar running back Cadan Woodcock. One week after rushing for 278 yards and three touchdowns in a win at Butler County, Woodcock was limited to 48 yards on 15 carries. Meanwhile, Clint McKee, the big back for the Eaqles, broke through for some modest gains early on for a first and goal at the Grayson 7-yard line.
On that first play from scrimmage, though, a high snap to quarterback John Ben Brown forced the Eagles back and they could not regain their former position. They went for the field goal and Connor Thomas was good from 33 yards for the only score Graves would need.
Eagle coach Nick Kemp, however, knew his team would have to play far better on defense than they did in last week's 48-41 shootout win at Ohio County. He also knew exactly what it would take.
"I thought we did a great job tackling," Kemp said afterwards of his squad's effort. "We were wrapping up and that's what we worked on this week. Last week we didn't do a very good job of it. We were putting our helmets into it. We got the shutout on a team that's been averaging 35 points a game and I'm really pleased with it."
Midway through the second quarter, Grayson tried to grab the lead with quarterback Kaylor Decker throwing for the end zone. Instead of his own man, Kyle Madding intercepted for the Eagles. Two plays later, McKee found a big hole for 57 yards and the first touchdown of the night.
On their next possession, the Cougars (4-1) tried handing off directly to Mason Miller. Grayson got into Eagle territory only to fumble it away. On the first play after the turnover, Brown found Grant for 64 yards and another score for a 17-0 lead. Graves had the final possession of the half and would get the ball to start the second half. Grant knew what the situation called for on the final play before the break.
"It was a fast screen," Grant said. "He saw I was open and we just connected."
Mason outran the Cougars after the grab for 55 yards and his second score of the game for a 24-0 halftime lead. Grayson went for the onside kick at the start of the third quarter but Bryan Easley covered it for Graves at the Eagle 43. McKee got the ball first and rumbled another 57 yards for a second touchdown.
McKee would add a third touchdown later in the third quarter to start the running clock and end the Cougars' hopes. He finished the night with 183 yards on 15 carries.
Graves (4-1) will be back on the road in the district next week at Owensboro, who improved to 5-0 with a 28-14 victory at rival Owensboro Catholic. Kemp knows his team has quite the task ahead of it.
"They're a top-five team in the state," Kemp said if the Devils. "They've got a great quarterback and we've got to be able to get the pass rush on. We've got to do a great job of getting pressure to the quarterback and take away their deep balls."
Grayson County 0 0 0 0 – 0
Graves County 3 21 14 7 – 45
GV: FG Connor Thomas 33, 3-0, 4:07, 1st
GV: Clint McKee 57 run (Thomas kick) 10-0. 5:17, 2nd
GV: Mason Grant 64 pass from John Ben Brown (Thomas kick) 17-0, 3:51, 2nd
GV: Grant 55 pass from Brown (Thomas kick) 24-0, :01, 2nd
GV: McKee 57 run (Thomas kick) 31-0, 11:49, 3rd
GV: McKee 17 run (Thomas kick) 38-0, 5:39, 3rd
GV: Race Richards 16 pass from Brown (Thomas kick) 45-0, 11:46, 4th
Grayson: Woodcock 15-48; Graves: McKee 15-183.
Grayson: Decker 5-8-1-61; Graves: Brown 9-15-0-184.
Grayson: Miller 2-35; Graves: Grant 5-143.