Quarterback Jacob Francis rushed for three touchdowns and threw for three others as the Red Devils scored on their first seven possessions of the game. It was the second straight week the Red Devils had scored exactly 48 points, having come off a 48-7 win over Carbon the previous week. Also for the second week in a row, Grand did not have to punt the ball during the game.
“It didn’t matter what we called, it worked,” said GCHS head coach Dennis Wells. “Our line is really good, and we’ve been playing with a lot of confidence.”
Emery had beaten Grand last year during the second week of the season in a 41-7 blowout at Castle Dale, but this time around it was the Red Devils who dominated.
Emery got the ball first to start last Friday’s game, but punted four plays later. Grand then drove the ball to Emery’s 5-yard line, where the Red Devils soon faced fourth down and goal. Francis lined up as if to attempt a field goal kick but instead took the ball and tossed it to tight end Kiel Schraft in the end zone near the left sideline for a touchdown. Francis added the extra point kick to give Grand an early 7-0 lead.
With about two minutes left in the first quarter, Francis connected on another TD pass, a 14-yarder to junior Ronnie Dolphin. The extra-point try missed, leaving Grand up 13-0 as the first quarter ended.
A scary moment occurred near the beginning of the second quarter when Red Devil lineman Trae Downard went down with an injury and had to be loaded onto a stretcher and taken to the hospital in an ambulance. He was later found to have suffered a “stinger,” essentially a pinched nerve injury. Wells said Downard will likely miss the next couple of games before he is cleared to play again.
Francis later scrambled 20 yards for a touchdown run midway through the second quarter and added the extra point to make it 20-0.
On Emery’s ensuing possession, the Spartans made it onto the scoreboard, thanks to a sustained drive that ended with an eight-yard TD run by Marco Mota. Ridge Nielson booted the extra point to make the score 20-7. However, Emery was given a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the touchdown play, and the Red Devils elected to have Emery back up 15 yards for the kickoff. As a result, Grand was able to return the kickoff to its own 48 yard line. On the very next play, Francis threw a long pass up the middle to Koi Cook, which Cook ran into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown. Francis added the extra point to give Grand a healthy 27-7 halftime lead.
The Red Devils got the ball to start the second half and managed to drive from their own 35-yard line to Emery’s 35 before stalling momentarily. After throwing two straight incomplete passes, Francis faked to the left then rushed to the right side on fourth-and-five situation, eventually making his way into the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown run. The Red Devils picked up a two-point conversion on a pass from Tanner White to Dalton McElhaney, making the score 35-7.
The Spartans scored on their next possession, which ended with a 15-yard TD run by Mota. Nielson’s kick made it a 35-14 contest.
Francis answered Emery by scoring with yet another touchdown run, this one from 12 yards out. His extra point try was good, making the score 42-14 as the third quarter drew to a close.
Early in the fourth quarter, Grand took the ball after Emery came up inches short on fourth down. The Red Devils then staged their final scoring drive, which ended when senior running back Cameron Taylor made a 1-yard touchdown run with about 7:20 left in the contest. The extra point try failed, however, due to a mishandled hike followed by an incomplete pass attempt.
Grand’s reserves and junior varsity players took the field for the rest of the contest. Emery did manage to score one final TD with under two minutes left on a 52-yard pass play from Tai Justice to Ryan Cox.
Francis ended up with 164 yards rushing and 108 yards passing. Cook added 85 yards rushing and 52 receiving. Defensively, Cook and Edgar Gomez led the way with 13 tackles apiece.
Although the Red Devils improved to 2-0 on the season with the victory, they don’t start region play until this week’s homecoming game against the North Sevier Wolves on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. The Wolves are 0-2 on the season thus far, but coach Wells said his team shouldn’t overlook North Sevier.
“North Sevier likes to spread their offense out. We’ll have to be ready for whatever they’ve got,” Wells said.