Grayson’s running game was sparked by Amari Alston, who carried eight times for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Alex Sanchez caught eight passes for 89 yards and one touchdown.
North Paulding’s sophomore quarterback Tyler Niehr completed 19 of 44 passes for 224 yards, one interception and one touchdown. But the Wolfpack did little on the ground, rushing for 134 yards with only four rushes of 10-plus yards.
“I think we come here every Friday knowing we’re going to battle,” Bryant said.
Grayson scored on its first possession, capping a 10-play drive on an 8-yard run by Amari Alston and made it 13-0 after taking advantage of Uriah Points’ interception. Three plays after the turnover Grayson scored on Elijah Miller’s 51-yard run.
Grayson turned the ball over on its next possession when Alston was stripped and Brandon Letz recovered. The Wolfpack cashed in quickly when Tyler Niehr connected to Javarius George for a 39-yard touchdown pass.
But Grayson quickly responded on its next turn. Sparked by a 50-yard catch-and-run to John Cineas, the Rams scored on a 28-yard pass from Davis to Alex Sanchez.
North Paulding orchestrated a 15-play drive to the Grayson 16, but settled for Aiden Nobles’ 32-yard field goal that cut the lead to 21-11. However, Grayson answered with a 44-yard touchdown run by Alston to take a 28-11 halftime lead.
“That’s one of our beliefs in our program that we always answer a score with a score,” Bryant said.
The Rams scored on their first two possessions of the second half on a pair of touchdowns to Ethan Cantres. North Paulding scored its final points on an 11-yard pass from Niehr to Dube Enongene with 49 seconds left in the half.
“It was all about us being ourselves,” Davis said. “We had a great game plan and we just wanted to execute it and get some stops. The coaches are always preaching about a fast start early and this game started fast.”
Grayson advances to host No. 4 Buford in the third-round game. It will be the first meeting between the two powers.
“It’s going to be a challenge. That’s a prestige program,” Bryant said.. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach App (Buford coach Bryant Appling) and all the things that he’s accomplished. It’s definitely a big challenge.”