Once promising football season plummets following Pius loss

The Southerner

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BY PHILLIP SUITTS

It was supposed to be a tightly contested game. After all, two of the top 10 teams in AAA were squaring off. But St. Pius didn’t get the memo.

A week after Grady (7-1, 4-1 in region 5AAA) demolished North Springs 70-0, it was their turn to be on the wrong end of a lopsided score after a 49-16 loss to St. Pius (8-0, 5-0 in region 5AAA) Friday night at Eddie S. Henderson Sr. Athletic Field.

The game was over before the first quarter ended.

Grady won the coin toss, but chose to defer, meaning St. Pius got the ball first. The Lions promptly marched down the field, the drive culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback T.J. Holloman (starting QB Trey White was out with an injury). Pius then recovered an onside kick on Grady’s 38-yard line. This time running back Ryan Braswell capped the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run. Suddenly, it was 14-0 Pius and the Grady offense hadn’t even touched the ball.

The Grady offense didn’t do its defense any favors though. Senior running back Hughston Leaks fumbled on Grady’s first play giving the ball back to St. Pius on Grady’s 35-yard line and forcing an already tired Grady defense back onto the field.

Three plays later, the Lions faced a fourth down with two yards to go on Grady’s 27. A stop would have given the ball back to Grady and kept the deficit at 14 points. But, St. Pius converted with a 9-yard run and then, on the next play, Holloman scored again, running for an 18-yard touchdown, giving Pius a 21-0 lead with 57.4 seconds left in the first quarter.

By the end of the first quarter, St. Pius had run 20 plays and gained 145 yards to Grady’s three plays and 6 yards gained.

Jordan Loveless, one of Grady’s starting linebackers, was still confident in his team’s chances, however.

“I was discouraged at the moment, but I never lost faith in my team or me,” Loveless said.

Kieno Jones, a starting defensive lineman, says he was thinking, “We are still in this game. Don’t put your head down.”

After an incomplete pass on third down early in the second quarter, Grady was forced to punt, giving the ball back to the dangerous Lions offense. Grady received a lifeline, however, after a muffed punt gave them the ball back on Pius’ 47 early in the second quarter.

Grady converted a fourth down and drove the ball down to the Pius 9, but the drive stalled and Grady had to settle for a 23-yard Dorian Greene field goal.

Any hope of a comeback was snuffed out on St. Pius’s ensuing drive. Holloman did the damage again, scoring on a 9-yard touchdown run with 42.9 seconds remaining in the first half.

St. Pius finished the first half with 194 total yards– all of them on rushes — while Grady recorded just 92 total yards– 50 rushing and 42 passing.

After Pius scored yet again in their first possession of the second half (Pius’s offense scored on its first six possessions) Leaks hit back with a 76-yard touchdown run, cutting the Pius lead to 35-10. The game was effectively over by that point, however, and while junior quarterback Kivon Taylor found junior tight end Darren Dowdell for an 8-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, the early deficit was too big to overcome, and Grady succumbed to a 49-16 defeat.

Pius’s wishbone rushing attack spread the wealth around as four Lions finished the night with at least 65 yards rushing. Holloman led the way with 109 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries. Ryan Braswell broke the 100-yard mark as well, finishing with 102 yards while Alabama recruit Geno Smith had 68 yards on the night and Jake DeLany finished with 65 yards. This quadruplet accounted for 344 of St. Pius 369 rushing yards.

In contrast, the Grady Grey Knights ended the night with 232 total yards — 145 rushing and 87 passing.

The Grey Knights will look to regroup as they finish the regular season with a game at Riverwood this Friday, Oct. 28.

Jones believes the team can learn from this game.

“We need to be more disciplined during practices and game,” Jones said. “We need to be more serious.”

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