After trailing Summit Academy 17-14 at halftime, Grantsville took control in the second half and outscored the visitors 21-7 to come away with a 35-24 victory at home Friday.
“We were close at halftime and we just talked about pushing ourselves a little more in the second half,” said GHS running back Parker Thomas.
Thomas scored four of Grantsville’s five touchdowns with one TD run in the first half and three more in the second half.
He carried the ball 37 times for 313 yards with a 8.5 yards-per-carry average. That broke the previous Grantsville High record for rushing yards in a single game by 40 yards.
“I’m just grateful to my offensive line. They are studs. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have any success running,” Thomas said.
Grantsville coach Kody Byrd agrees with Thomas’ assessment.
“Our offensive line took it to them tonight. We challenged them before the game and they stepped up to the challenge,” Byrd said.
“We knew this would be a good game; they’re (Summit Academy) always one of the top teams in the state. We knew we’re capable of being up there on that top echelon with them. So we came out tonight ready to take them,” Byrd said.
After giving up 17 points in the first half, the Cowboys limited the Bears to one touchdown in the second half.
“I feel we have the best defense in the state and we knew they had a great offense. We tweaked a few things at halftime, just some technical stuff. But mostly it was just about effort and the defense answered,” Byrd said.
Summit Academy opened with a drive to midfield that was snuffed out when Ammon Bartley intercepted for the Cowboys and returned it to the GHS 48.
Three plays later, Thomas found a hole through the left side of the line and sprinted 50 yards for the game’s first touchdown. Dayne Linton added the PAT to give Grantsville a 7-0 lead two minutes into the game.
A big return put the Bears in prime field position at their own 45. Quarterback Kasey Briggs found Gage Sessions on a pass to the GHS 19. Another pass put the ball on the 6, and Briggs connected with Astchyn Brady on fourth-and-4 for a TD to tie the game 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Grantsville’s defense came up big on the Bears’ next drive with a sack from Isaac Riding and Eathen Brinkerhoff on a third-and-1 play at the GHS 22. The Bears settled for a 29-yard field goal to lead 10-7 after the first quarter.
Summit Academy stretched the lead to 17-7 early in the second quarter on a short drive after a short punt from the Cowboys.
Thomas started picking up huge chunks of yardage on a time-consuming TD drive for the Cowboys in the second quarter. The drive included a pass completions from Jackson Sandberg to Taylor Wood and Bartley. Sandberg scored on a 4-yard run to bring the Cowboys within 3 points at 17-14 with 47 seconds left until intermission.
The Cowboys nearly took the lead in the final seconds of the second quarter when Gauge Pyne intercepted a pass at the SA 45. Sandberg then hit Parker Bird on a 33-yard pass to the SA 12-yard line with 1.6 seconds to go. Grantsville threw an incomplete pass as time expired.
The Cowboys took the lead for the second time in the game when Thomas bolted 79 yards for a TD on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. The run put the Cowboys up 21-17.
Summit Academy took the lead back on the very next series on a 60-yard completion to put the Bears back in front 24-21 with 10:08 left in the third.
Grantsville took the lead for good late in the third quarter with a time-consuming drive that culminated with Thomas running up the middle for a 15-yard TD. The score made it 28-24 Cowboys.
The Bears continued to battle and drove to the GHS 40, but Riding came through with another sack on a fourth down.
A bad snap hurt the Bears midway through the fourth quarter, and they were forced to punt from their own 5-yard line.
It set up the Cowboys for a game-clinching 44-yard drive for TD with 1:32 left in the contest. Thomas scampered in from 5 yards out to make the final 35-24 Cowboys.
The running back provided the names of the offensive linemen that helped him rush for more than 300 yards. He mentioned Pyne, Austin Gray, Branson Yager, Jackson Rowberry, Chaz Shafer, Drake Hall and Colton Gill.