Grayson defeats Dacula

Grayson isn’t ready to relinquish its stronghold on Region 8-AAAAA just yet.

The Rams defeated Dacula 16-10 Friday in a battle of the region’s top two teams at Grayson. With the win, the 10th-ranked Rams hold down the region’s top spot in front of a logjam of other teams.

“I’m real excited about the way our team has matured,” Grayson coach Mickey Conn said. “After falling behind on the road, I’m not sure how this team would’ve responded six weeks ago. But it’s a good group that has worked hard to build some momentum.”

Grayson (5-1), the defending region champ, was helped by a pair of clutch defensive plays in the second quarter, including an interception by Tre McQueen to set up a touchdown.

No. 9 Dacula (4-2) had entered the Class AAAAA rankings for the first time since the 2007 season and poised a serious threat to Grayson after scoring on the game’s opening drive. Dacula’s Dexter Walker ran for a 5-yard touchdown up the middle for a 7-0 lead.

With the score tied at 7-7 after a 1-yard run by Rams’ quarterback Nick Schuessler, it was two Grayson stellar defensive plays before intermission that turned out to be the game’s deciding factors.

The first was a blocked punt by Grayson’s Jesse Hogan, who batted the ball into the Dacula end zone. Hogan nearly recovered the ball for a touchdown, but it rolled out of the back of the end zone. The safety gave Grayson the lead for the first time at 9-7. “That was a huge play and I thought it changed the momentum of the game in our favor,” said Conn.

With a few minutes left before halftime, Dacula quarterback Rocky Capobianco threw a short pass that was deflected into the arms of McQueen for the interception. McQueen returned it 16 yards, nearly scoring on the play, before being tackled at the Dacula 6.

After two unsuccessful running attempts, Grayson opted for a passing play on third down, with Schuessler tossing a 6-yard scoring strike to Michael Peek for a 16-7 advantage with 46 seconds in the second quarter.

A 27-yard field goal by Dacula’s Davian McEwan accounted for the game’s only points in the second half.