Grace Christian hands Warriors first loss in thriller, 27-19

Published 12:04 pm Monday, October 2, 2017

The Happy Valley Warriors were looking to remain perfect while celebrating Homecoming 2017 on Warrior Hill, but the Rams of Grace Christian weren’t having any of it as the Rams squeaked away with a hard-hitting 27-19 win.

After each team had an offensive series to open the contest, Grace Christian hit the scoring column first as quarterback Luke Kirby found Jonah Duggins for a 10-yard scoring pass with 6:53 left on the first quarter clock.

Luke Smith’s point-after was good and the Rams led 7-0.

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The Rams extended the lead to 14-0 when Cody Estep burst across the goal line from 2 yards out for the 14-0 lead on Smith’s PAT with 8:10 left before the half.

Happy Valley needed a boost and got one in the form of Dakota Cochran whose 55-yard ramble set the Warriors up with a first and goal at the Ram 5-yard line.

Cochran would cover the distance on two carries to cut the lead to 14-7 on Michael Harrah’s point after.

The Warriors got a huge break on the ensuing kickoff when Grant Warwick fumbled the football on the kickoff return and the Warriors recovered on the Grace Christian 33-yard line.

Happy Valley used nine plays to hit pay dirt on a Brayden Sams to Luke Phillips 5-yard touchdown pass.

Harrah’s PAT was no good leaving the Warriors trailing by one, 14-13, at the intermission.

A pair of interceptions started the second half as the teams traded possessions before the Warriors would get their first lead of the contest.

Sams would go to the air once again as he found Cochran open and the burly running back did the rest covering 8 yards to give the Warriors a 19-14 lead after the 2-point conversion failed.

It would take the Rams only five plays to seize the lead back after a long kickoff return deep into Warrior territory.

Estep found the end zone for Grace Christian on a 2-yard rush with 5:34 remaining in the third quarter to make it 20-19 in the Rams favor as Grace Christian also failed on their 2-point conversion attempt.

The Rams would tack on one more score late in the fourth quarter when Kirby found Bradley Rash for a 15-yard scoring toss with only 2:41 remaining in the game.

Smith split the uprights and the Warriors had their work cut out trailing 27-19.

Making matters worse was the fact that Sams suffered an injury to the shoulder area and had to stay on the sideline and second-string quarterback Noah Stevens was body slammed during the Warriors drive resulting in an injury as well.

Freshman quarterback Eli Ayers came into the contest facing fourth-and-20 with 30.9 seconds remaining.

Ayers found Kai Norman for the first down, but the Rams stood strong and batted a deep ball to the end zone by Ayers on fourth-and-6 with 10 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Check out Tuesday’s Gridiron Weekly for more on the Warriors and Rams battle on Warrior Hill.