Grayson 28, Collins Hill 7

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Grayson coach Adam Carter wondered how his top-ranked Rams would respond when they faced some real adversity. He found out on Friday night and was pleased with the results.

The No. 1-ranked team in Class 7A was trailing midway in the third quarter, but came back to score four unanswered touchdowns to outslug No. 6 Collins Hill 28-8 at Grayson’s Britt-Moody Field.

The Rams rode their big offensive line and running back Phil Mafah, who rushed 24 times for 170 yards and three touchdowns. The Grayson defense came up with seven sacks and limited Collins Hill to minus-12 yard rushing and 151 yards passing.

“We needed that,” Grayson coach Adam Carter said. “We had been fortunate the first two weeks to be up at halftime significantly. So to come out and to respond, we needed that. I challenged our coaches, I challenged our kids … I’m proud of them. We needed to come out and see what we had in the tank and see what we’re made of. Hopefully we can build off that.”

Grayson, ranked No. 5 in the nation by the USA Today, found itself trailing 7-0 in the third quarter after Collins Hill scored on a seven-play, 87-yard drive that was capped by Sam Horn’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Clint Gilbert.

That seemed to get Grayson’s interest. A long kickoff return by Jamal Haynes set the Rams up at the 39 and they finally punched it in on third-and-goal from the 1 when Mafah went off right tackle for the score.

Grayson took the lead for good on Mafah’s 3-yard run with 8:19 remaining. The big play was a third-down conversion pass to Mafah, with an additional 15 yards tacked on for a facemask penalty. The extra point kick hit the right upright and Grayson led 13-7.

The Rams put it away on their next possession. Starting from their own 5, Mafah began picking up chunks of yardage – 44 yards to reach midfield – and scored on a 16-yard run. C.J. Clements ran for the two-point conversion.

“At halftime I challenged those offensive coaches and that offensive line,” Carter said. “Hey, listen, that’s not the kind of football we’ve been playing. I want to see what you’ve got and they responded. I could not be more proud of that offensive staff.”

Grayson cinched it after Justin Alexander recovered an unfielded pooch kick at the 16. Joe Taylor scored on an 8-yard run two plays later to make it 28-7. Grayson’s Jayvian Allen came up with an interception and the Rams ran out the clock.

Collins Hill quarterback Sam Horn completed 22 of 37 passes for 151 yards and two interceptions. Logan Brown caught eight passes for 53 yards.

Grayson quarterback De Yon Cannon completed 8 of 17 passes for 61 yards. Joe Taylor carried nine times for 35 yards and one touchdown.

The first half was a battle of field position and missed opportunities.

“Their defensive staff … they had a plan,” Carter said. “Our guys made some adjustments at halftime, which is a positive. Our guys defensively played well at times, we ended up making some plays, which is a huge gain, and found a way to get off the field which we didn’t do last week.”

The timbre of the game became obvious once Grayson drove to the 12 and opted to go for it on fourth-and-8. The Rams came up short when Cannon tried to keep it and came up five yards shy.

Collins Hill couldn’t benefit and Horn’s pass was intercepted by Mu Mu Bin-Wahad and retired to the 19. But the Rams stalled again and a fourth-and-9 play at the 19 lost yardage and gave it back to Collins Hill.

Collins Hill had its best chance early in the second quarter after Horn connected with Spencer Anderson for a 28-yard gain — the largest of the half by either side. But the Eagles were stymied there and tried a fake punt on fourth-and-2 at the 46.

Grayson had one other opportunity after kicking Collins Hill dead at the 1 and forcing a punt. The Rams started at the 36 and got as far as the 17 before turning it over on downs following two incomplete passes.

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