Warriors too much for Gophers in 38-14 rout
Warriors too much for Gophers in 38-14 rout
By KIRK DICKEY and DENTON RAMSEY
While the Grand Prairie Gophers made some convincing plays early and scored first in the game, the South Grand Prairie Warriors were too much for them in a 38-14 rout at the sixth annual Prairie Bowl Classic, Oct. 6.
Starting off play into the sun because of the early start, the Gophers were able to earn a first down on a seven-yard completion from Josh Ontiveras to Greg Brown, before two good stops by the Warriors ended the first drive of the game.
The Warriors struck through the air as well, completing a 10-yard pass from Denzel Dewberry to Trae Johnson to start what would later become a strong offensive showing. On the night, Dewberry completed 13 of 15 passes with 230 yards to show for it.
“It’s nice to get back on a winning track,” Warriors head coach David Fisher said. “We came out a little sluggish in the first half with a little hangover from the loss to Trinity, but we’ve had five battles now. Five straight wars – that was no different than coming off that physical Trinity game.”
But South did not start out the game that way. The Warriors would gain only four more yards in the first quarter, as the Gopher offense and Warrior D penalties propelled Grand Prairie into the end zone with a little less than a minute left.
However, Warriors kicker Carson Wiggs showed he could play some defense in the cross-town match-up, twice tackling the Gopher return-man and almost stopping Grand Prairie’s second and final points of the game on a punt return, just missing his third tackle of the night.
Two plays that stood out in the Gophers’ 54-yard touchdown drive included a Derrick Jones rumble forward for 12 yards and another 13-yard connection between Ontiveras and Brown. The Gophers had moved the chains 38 yards before being called back on two penalties for 15 yards.
The losses put the Gophers at the 29-yard line at fourth and 19, so the team called up kicker Ricky Garcia to make a 46-yard field goal. The ball just made it through the uprights, but the Gophers were awarded a first-down on a Warrior roughing penalty.
Gopher head coach Gary Bartel elected to accept the penalty rather than take the points. With the automatic first down, as long as the team held onto the ball, it would be able to put up another field goal a few plays later if their drive failed.
“It was all time of possession and ball control theory,” Bartel said later, adding that in the later quarters of a tight ballgame, the call might be different. “I wanted to run some more time across the clock with the ball in our possession and hopefully turn it into seven points. And fortunately that is the way it turned out. I’d do it 100 out of 100 times in that situation.”
Bartel said the Gophers’ plan for the game was to control the clock against an explosive Warrior team.
The penalty gave Grand Prairie an automatic first down at the 15, which running back Adrian Pena made short work of. He moved the ball 14 yards in three plays, before Marcus Mathis took it in for the score.
On the second play of the Warrior’s next drive, Grand Prairie’s Michael Vaughan caused a five-yard loss on a bootleg. Vaughan had a good night, with 12 tackles including two sacks.
After trading off four and outs, the Warriors’ Thomas Ferguson picked off a pass intended for tight end Jordan McCallister, leaving them with a short field to cover. And cover it they did, with a 36-yard Dewberry to Rakin Rigsby pass. Rigsby was on his way to the house, before Jones and Jerrel McKnight pushed him out at the 1. The Gophers made a stop on the next play, but couldn’t keep Dewberry out for long as he charged over the line on a keeper with 6:08 left in the half.
The Warriors found themselves in the end zone again exactly five minutes of game time later, mostly on Dewberry’s back. He ran for seven yards and threw for 57 more, connecting with Trae Johnson on one play for a 39-yard reception. Rigsby took the ball in for the touchdown with 1:08 left in the quarter.
“I felt like if we had gone in tight at halftime, we’d have a little better chance, but they got a little momentum there scoring just before the half to take the lead into halftime,” Bartel said.
Dewberry and Johnson hooked up for a 54-yard scoring strike 2:22 into the second half, the longest single play of the night.
The Gophers were tagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the kickoff, sending them back to the 10-yard line. Pena was able to take the team 30 yards on the first play of the Grand Prairie drive before getting dragged down by a host of Warriors. Grand Prairie was held up by back-to-back offsides penalties though, and had to punt it away from their own 38.
Starting at their minus 33, the Warriors drove the length of the field in eight plays including 32 yards by Ricky Evans. Dewberry found Johnson in the end zone again for their fourth score of the game.
After Grand Prairie punted the ball away, the Warriors took it at their own 46. Three plays later, they were in the end zone again on a 14-yard carry by Dewberry.
The teams traded four and outs again, but this time, McKnight found a seam on his punt return and put the Gophers back on the board, streaking down the right sideline for the score. The touchdown left the score 14-35 with 10:06 remaining.
“Even to the end, we were competing,” Bartel said. “I was real proud of the way we kept competing trying to get back in the game.”
The Gophers looked like they might be on the road to another touchdown after Adam Pena recovered an onside kick at the South 35. But it was not to be, as the halfback pass was picked off by Justin Henry on the Gophers’ first play of the series.
South drove the ball back to the Gopher 29, before Carson Wiggs booted a 46-yard field goal, matching Garcia’s first half field goal distance for the final points of the game.
“The last three weeks have just about worn us down, so we’re ready to get to some normal football without a bunch of festivity,” Fisher said. “But I couldn’t be prouder of my guys – they battled and played a really good second half – it wasn’t very pretty the first half, but we battled back in the second half.”