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Grangeville strikes back

Bulldogs 29, Vandals 28 (OT)

For much of the game last Friday night, Oct. 28, Grangeville’s Chad Simmons was focused on limiting McCall’s deep passes — but after GHS lost starting quarterback Tescher Harris to the last play of the third quarter, Simmons made one of the offensive plays of the game. When a play designed as a pass broke down, Simmons scrambled for an overtime touchdown.

Photo by Andrew Ottoson
For much of the game last Friday night, Oct. 28, Grangeville’s Chad Simmons was focused on limiting McCall’s deep passes — but after GHS lost starting quarterback Tescher Harris to the last play of the third quarter, Simmons made one of the offensive plays of the game. When a play designed as a pass broke down, Simmons scrambled for an overtime touchdown.



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Grangeville's Luke Stokes crashes into the end zone with the decisive points of the 29-28 overtime victory over McCall the Bulldogs claimed during the first round of 2A football playoffs Friday night, Oct. 28.

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Grangeville starting quarterback Tescher Harris was sacked hard and injured last Friday night, Oct. 28, at McCall. Before he was injured, Harris had contributed to the offense mainly by way of passes to tight end TJ Wiltse, who had got open underneath the Vandals’ coverage repeatedly. On the last play of the third quarter, Harris was forced out of the game with an apparent shoulder injury sustained when a McCall defender broke through the GHS line and put him to the ground, after which Chad Simmons took on the quarterback responsibilities.

All eyes were on Noah Kaschmitter after reserve quarterback Chad Simmons scrambled into the end zone with a vengeance on the second-to-last play of Grangeville's 29-28 overtime triumph Friday night, Oct. 28.

Kaschmitter had been the main man the Bulldogs turned to when in need of a few yards, and Grangeville coaches and players later said they had indeed called his number.

But after McCall got a look at the formation Grangeville brought to the line of scrimmage for what would either way be the decisive two-point try — succeed and win and the season continues, fall short and lose and the season's over — the Vandals called time out. That's when GHS offensive mastermind Jeff Adams petitioned the players with a different idea: would they hand off to Luke Stokes instead?

The Bulldogs took ownership of that idea, head coach Jeff Lindsley said, and they blocked it perfectly. Stokes said that he had two things to look for — and though he saw the lane to the outside open up as expected, he had one tough final yard to get. One of the key blockers on the play — Justin Fogleman — shoved a would-be tackler into the end zone, and Stokes, in the McCall player's grasp, went with him.

The game flow had been tit-for-tat from the start, as McCall opened the scoring much as the Vandals had closed out their early-season win over the Bulldogs: with a trick play factoring into the scoring drive.

The Vandals band played the Star Wars Imperial March, which they repeated after every big play — but it was the Bulldogs who ultimately struck back.

After an exchange of punts, Grangeville answered with a series that had the McCall defense scrambling.

Starting at their own 40, Grangeville backed into a third-and-13, but broke a counter across midfield to convert. After two handoffs to Kaschmitter made it third-and-five at McCall 44, starting quarterback Tescher Harris hit TJ Wiltse for 27 yards and a first down in the red zone. Two plays later, Stokes crashed into the end zone and Wiltse kicked the extra point to tie it at 7-7 with 2:37 left in the first.

Grangeville forced a three-and-out, and took over at midfield. The first quarter ended with Kaschmitter breaking 18 yards to convert third-and-13. Four plays later, facing fourth-and-nine, Kaschmitter capped the series with a 22 yard touchdown run. The kick failed, but Grangeville led 13-7.

McCall’s passing game sprung to life after a taunting penalty, and an 18-yard completion tied it, the Vandals kicked the extra point and led 14-13 at halftime.

Stokes ripped a 27-yard run on the first play of the third quarter and GHS converted two third downs — one by way of a pass to Wiltse, another by way of a Kaschmitter run — to extend the possession. Kaschmitter finished the drive with a five-yard run with 8:02 left in the third. To the go-ahead touchdown, Grangeville added a pass from Harris to Booker Bush.

McCall answered with a big kickoff return, and scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper run on the sixth play of the series; the kick tied the score at 21-all.

Grangeville’s next drive would have featured a 43-yard passing touchdown from Harris to Bush if not for a penalty. Harris swung the ball out to Bush, who broke through three waves of tacklers before escaping down the visitor’s sideline, but a flag nullified Bush’s extra effort.

McCall forced a punt, then the Grangeville defense forced a punt back — and the exchange of field position left GHS with a first-and-10 at the Vandals 24. Harris was sacked hard onto his shoulder on second down — the last play of the third quarter — and exited with an injury.

McCall had a key completion wiped out by a holding penalty, and went three-and-out.

The Bulldogs took over at their own own 15, convered a third down on a run by Stokes and a fourth down on a run by Kaschmitter, but lost a fumble with 3:09 to go.

The Grangeville defense dodged a bullet when the intended receiver of a deep pass was flagged for offensive pass interference — resulting in a null play instead of the go-ahead touchdown with 2:33 left. After a run and an incompletion, McCall punted.

Grangeville ran the clock down to 16 seconds left before punting, and Bush picked off a last-ditch throw into the end zone to force overtime.

McCall had the first possession and scored on a pass.

Coming — Grangeville (5-4 overall) will play a 2A state quarterfinal road game at Declo, at 6 p.m. MT this Friday night, Nov. 4.

[CORRECTION: The Grangeville at Declo football game will be at 6 p.m. MT Nov. 4. -ao]



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