The Pontotoc Warriors acquitted themselves valiantly against a 6A school Friday night, and nearly pulled off another last-second comeback, but they came up just a little short, dropping their home-opener to Grenada 24-19.
For the second, straight week, Pontotoc quarterback Connor Armstrong passed for three touchdowns.
Grenada was coming off a win over fellow 6A school Horn Lake.
The first half of Friday’s contest was slowed considerably by penalties. Grenada committed six and Pontotoc, four.
The Chargers returned the opening kickoff to their 29 yard-line. Tyler Wilson started at quarterback. A partially blocked punt resulted in Grenada starting their second possession from Pontotoc’s 49 yard-line. The Chargers ground out a first-down, anchored by Tre Moss. Wilson then hit Jahiem Shack on an inside slant and a 35-yard touchdown. Jacob Chavis added the PAT for a 7-0 Grenada lead with just over six minutes to play in the quarter.
The Chargers started their third possession with 2:30 to play in the first quarter. Pontotoc nose-guard Brady Thomas turned in an offensive gem. He shifted to his right, into the one gap, just before the snap, then crashed hard left, helping Kentrel Peters smother a tailback dive for a minimal gain. Grenada attempted a pitch right, but Peters broke into the backfield, forcing the ball-carrier to reverse field, where Malachi Brown ran him down.
On an ensuing play, Nic Townsend jumped a passing route, stepping in front of Wilson’s pass, and returned the pickoff to Grenada’s 20 yard-line. Two plays later, Jordan Ball broke loose for a good run to the 11 yard-line, with Jon Robert Carnes and Bryce Chrestman blocking down on the linebackers to spring him. That ended the first quarter. Switching ends of the field, Pontotoc drove toward the eastern endzone. On third and one, Pontotoc answered with a touchdown. Grenada walked up a safety to the left side of Pontotoc’s offensive line, just prior to the snap. As the safety crashed Pontotoc running back Anndru Berry stepped in front of him for pass protection, allowing Armstrong to hit Townsend for a touchdown. Tommy Morton added the PAT, and with 10 minutes to play in the half, the score was tied 7-7.
On third-down and nine, with just under four minutes remaining, Grenada was on its own 22 yard line. Wilson tried to loft a short pass to the running back when Kentrel Peters skied to snatch it from the air and return it to the six yard-line. On the ensuing third down, Armstrong stepped inside a crushing block from Carter Cleveland, who drove his man completely out of the play, and fired a laser to Townsend, who made a diving grab for the touchdown. The PAT was no good.
A good kickoff return by Jahiem Shack and strong running by Joe Moss took Grenada in position for Chavis to nail a 37 yard field goal, and Pontotoc took a 13-10 lead into halftime.
Grenada went up-tempo in the third quarter. Another good kick return by Shack gave them the ball at midfield. In a drive anchored almost entirely by runs from Joe Moss, the Chargers drove the shortened field and Moss carried it in from five yards out for the go-ahead touchdown. The third quarter ended with the score 17-13 Grenada.
Late in the fourth quarter, Moss broke a 50 yard touchdown, and with the PAT Grenada led 24-13, wth 3:21 remaining.
The Warriors started their ensuing possession from their own 27 yard-line. Armstrong hit a swing pass out to Townsend, who got the right edge and took the ball to the 42. Armstrong then hit a nice sideline throw to Kyleal McShan to near midfield. In the closing minutes, Armstrong hit Townsend in the right corner of the home endzone for a ,40 yard touchdown, but the two-point conversion attempt failed, and Grenada was able to hold on for the win.
Afterwards, Pontotoc Coach Jeff Carter said his guys played hard.
“We gave up a few long runs, and couldn’t get clicking on offense, but their defense had a lot to do with it,” said Carter. “Our kids played hard and we had a chance.”
Pontotoc is 1-1 on the season. The Warriors host Choctaw County on Friday.