Two Grimsley seniors, Born Lesane and Rob Dalton, stepped up big for the Whirlies on Friday night and sparked the Grimsley Whirlies to a 34-21 victory over the Ragsdale Tigers at Kenneth Miller Stadium in Jamestown.
With starting RB Quan Nora sidelined for the Whirlies with injuries, senior Born Lesane rushed for more than 140 yards and a touchdown and controlled the running game for Grimsley. Rob Dalton had two interceptions – one a pick six – and a receiving touchdown in the victory.
Grimsley controlled the clock on a 15-play drive that lasted just under seven minutes in the first quarter, feeding the Tigers a steady diet of Lesane. After starting on their own 26, the Whirlies drove to the Ragsdale seven, where they were stopped and forced to kick a field goal.
The second quarter practically mirrored the first, with the Whirlies taking over on downs on their own 31, then embarking on a 21-play drive that burned more than nine minutes off the clock. The Whirlies were once again stopped in the red-zone and were forced to kick a field goal. Grimsley was successful on the attempt, and led 6-0 going into halftime.
After being able to move the ball downfield seemingly at will on the ground, but coming up short in the red zone in the first half, the Whirlies took to the air to begin the second half and quickly found the Promised Land. On the third play of the opening drive of the third quarter, Grimsley quarterback Christofer Zellous connected with Cam Wall for 61 yards and a touchdown to put the Whirlies ahead 12-0. After Lesane scampered into the end zone on a two-point conversion, the Grimsley lead was 14-0, early in the third.
On their next drive, Grimsley put the ball in the hands of Zellous, who found an open Rob Dalton from 40 yards out for the touchdown. The Whirlies led 21-0 early in the second half.
Grimsley head coach Darryl Brown said that he believed that his team’s passing success feeds off running the ball well.
“There were a couple of things we wanted to do with the passing game,” Brown said.
“If we can run the ball, then it allows us to be able to do other things. We had success running the ball in the first half, so we were able to get a few things, and scores, off play-action to start the second half.”
A Ragsdale quarterback change sparked the Tigers offense in the third quarter as the Tigers substituted Trey Jackson for Devan Boykin, and the change immediately showed results for Ragsdale. Jackson led the Tigers 67 yards in just over two minutes on his first drive at quarterback, and punctuated the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to cut the Whirlies’ lead to 21-7.
The touchdown got Ragsdale’s defense pumped as well, as they forced Grimsley to three-and-out for the first time in the game on their ensuing drive and put the ball back into the hands of the Jackson-led Tigers offense.
Once again, the Tigers capitalized.
Ragsdale drove 46 yards in the final minute and 49 seconds of the third quarter. Willie Brown sealed the drive with a touchdown from the one-yard line. Grimsley’s lead was now a mere touchdown, 21-14.
With their lead cut to seven, Grimsley needed a boost, and it was none other than a senior who answered.
Rob Dalton intercepted Trey Jackson and returned the ball to the Ragsdale 11-yard line. On the next play, Lesane, another senior, burst through the Tigers’ defense and reached the end zone on a second-chance push.
Grimsley led 28-14 with 8:42 remaining in the game.
Rob Dalton, who now had a touchdown and an interception, wasn’t done. Dalton intercepted Devan Boykin, who returned to quarterback for Ragsdale after the Jackson interception, for a pick-six, that increased the Whirlies’ lead to 34-14 after their extra-point attempt was blocked by Ragsdale.
The Tigers added a touchdown with 2:10 to play on another Jackson touchdown run, but the damage was done, as Grimsley held on to win by a final score of 34-21.
The Whirlies Rob Dalton was calm, collected, and happy with the victory.
“First and foremost, a great team win to start conference play,” he said.
“It’s definitely big,” Dalton said of his performance. “I played four years and live for these moments. I put myself in position by working hard with my teammates this off-season.”
Grimsley head coach Darryl Brown was pleased with the effort from his team in the win.
“I thought we played really hard, and really tough tonight,” Brown said. “That’s what we’ve been hanging our hat on in the last few weeks, playing together and making sure that we play extremely hard and tough.”
Brown credited Born Lesane for stepping up in the absence of Nora.
“Born had to step in and carry the load tonight because our starting tailback didn’t play,” he said. “We knew he was very capable of doing that, we were just asking something different of him than he’s done the last few weeks.”
Rod Dalton’s two interceptions, along with two touchdowns, weren’t overlooked by Brown.
“Rob has been playing as well as anyone for us the last few weeks,” Brown added.
“He is a senior leader. He is willing to do whatever we ask out of him. He plays hard, plays tough. I couldn’t be more proud of him tonight.”
The game marked the opening of conference play for both teams.
Grimsley improves to (4-4) overall and (1-0) in the Metro 4-A Conference with the victory. The Whirlies travel to High Point next Friday night to take on the Bison of High Point Central.
Ragsdale drops to (5-3) overall and is now (0-1) in Metro 4-A Conference action. Ragsdale will travel to Northwest Guilford on October 19th in their next game and take on the Vikings to continue their Metro 4-A conference play.
(Grim) Will Caviness 27 FG
(Grim) Caviness 33 FG
(Grim) Cam Wall 61 pass from Christofer Zellous (Born Lesane run)
(Grim) Rob Dalton 40 pass from Zellous (Caviness kick)
(Rags) Trey Jackson 5 run (Thomas Vernon kick)
(Rags) Willie Brown 1 run (Vernon kick)
(Grim) Lesane 11 run (Caviness kick)
(Grim) Dalton 33 interception return (kick failed)
(Rags) Jackson 19 run (Vernon kick)
Rob Dalton: 3 rec, 59yds, TD; 2 INT, TD
Born Lesane: 31 car, 142yds, TD
Chris Zellous: (6-11) 134yds, 2TD, INT
Cam Wall: 1 rec, 61yds, TD
Trey Jackson: (3-7) 43yds, INT; 5 car, 35yds, 2 TD
Devan Boykin: (2-13) 37yds, INT; 11 car, 109yds; Def INT
Willie Brown: 13 car, 42yds, TD