GRC holds off Tates Creek after slow start and sloppy ending, wins 34-28 in new stadium

Published 12:18 am Saturday, September 7, 2019

George Rogers Clark finally got a chance to cut the ribbon on the first completed stage of their new athletic complex Friday night. The GRC football team played their home opener against Tates Creek in front of a packed house and some very special guests.

The night began with the band, ROTC, choir, orchestra, cheerleaders and dance team leading a parade to the stadium.

Email newsletter signup

Those groups welcomed to the field past, future and eventually present GRC football players.

At midfield, the game ball was presented to the referee by the head coach of the 1991 state championship team, Don Danko. The ceremonial coin toss was also presented by a member of the 91 team’s coaching staff, Marty Joyce.

Once the coin was flipped, ceremonies were over and the Cardinals and their fans were ready for GRC football.

The game started out slow for the Cards, and Tates Creek was the first to strike on a 52-yard rushing touchdown halfway through the first quarter.

After a three-and-out from GRC, the Commodores returned a punt for a touchdown, however, a block in the back penalty brought it back.

A long drive from the Commodores saw the first quarter come to an end.

Tates Creek was able to find the endzone two more times on this possession with penalties bringing them back but eventually got in without any flags to bring their lead to 14-0.

The Cardinals got some immediate life brought back into them when Jeremiah Mundy-Lloyd took the ensuing kickoff back to the Tates Creek six-yard line. Mundy-Lloyd would eventually punch it in to cut the lead to 14-7.

Sam Neeley got the ball back for the Cards on the next possession, forcing a fumble on the Commodores quarterback.

The very next play saw a 23-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Manley to Jeremiaha Johnson, tying the game at 14.

With just under three minutes to play in the half, the Cards found the end zone again, a 14-yard pass from Manley to Dylan Gibson, giving the Cards a 22-14 lead, their first at their new stadium and they took that into halftime.

At halftime, the 1991 state championship team was recognized at the 50-yard line.

“It’s great to see all my old teammates, I don’t get to see those guys very often,” Tony Lanning, RDC’s head football coach and a member of the state championship team, said. “To come out here on a night like this, it’s pretty special.”

The third quarter was a battle for field position, with GRC landing three punts inside the five-yard line. A 57-yard pass from Manley to Azariah Israel was the only score, boosting the Cards lead to 28-14.

But Tates Creek kept fighting. On 3rd and 15 on their own four-yard line, they scored a 96-yard touchdown to cut it to a one-score lead.

GRC responded with a 70-yard Israel touchdown run just one minute later to push the lead back to 13.

A 26-yard touchdown pass from the Commodores cut it to a six-point game with six minutes to go, and the game got sloppy.

A short punt from the cards gave the Commodores great field position, and a chance to take the lead.

Driving down the field, the Commodores got the ball in the red zone.

The Cards held strong, breaking up a pass in the end zone to force a turnover on downs, but on their very first play of offense fumbled the ball right back to Tates Creek.

GRC was able to force a fumble of their own with just under two minutes to play to seal their first win of the season and at their new stadium.

“Our kids showed the character I’ve talked about,” Oliver Lucas, GRC’s head coach, said. “They’re resilient and they do not quit. They kept going and they make it go our way.”

GRC is on the road next week, as they take on Montgomery County Friday night at 7:30 p.m.