GRANITE BAY– There is a lot of pride, tradition and winning that comes from Granite Bay and Grant High School football.
The two teams faced off Friday night for the first time since the Sierra Foothill League realigned, and the Pacers didn't disappoint in their SFL debut. Grant knocked off the Grizzlies in overtime on Granite Bay's senior night, 29-21.
“Losses sometimes teach you more about yourself than wins do,” Granite Bay head coach Jeff Evans said. “I think we are going to learn a lot about our guys. I know they will keep fighting for sure.”
After spending a majority of this decade in the Delta League, Grant felt like they were ready for the SFL, which is arguably the best conference in the Sac-Joaquin Section. The Pacers’ size and physicality was on full display Friday night, opening up big holes for Grant running back Christian Kinsey.
“That is Grant football,” said Evans. “Even though tonight was their first game in the SFL, they are no stranger to tough football with them playing all of us over the years.”
Granite Bay, who came off a miserable offensive performance versus Del Oro in the previous week, struggled to find a groove until the second quarter when the Grizzlies finally got on the scoreboard via a Chase Garmon 3-yard touchdown. Granite Bay senior quarterback TJ Robertson ran for a touchdown and connected with junior Cobe Weeks on a 42-yarder, which tied up the game early in the third.
The Grizzlies’ offense was doomed by two big turnovers, the first coming when Robertson threw a crucial interception in the first quarter, allowing Grant to punch it in from the 1-yard line. The second interception came on a trick play where junior wide receiver Ty Peterson was picked off late in the fourth quarter.
“Turnovers are always a big factor,” Evans said. “We gave them a score there early on the turnover, but they are a good team and capitalized on it.”
A late defensive stand from Granite Bay forced a three-and-out, getting the ball back with just under two minutes to go. Evans decided to play conservatively, which forced overtime.
“We liked the shape our guys are in and what our defense can do,” said Evans. “We aren’t the type of team to go 80 yards in one play, and we didn’t want to turn the ball over down the stretch again. We decided it would be best to take it to overtime.”
Grant got the ball first in overtime and converted on a fourth-and-long to extend the drive. The Pacers scored on a 10-yard touchdown two plays later and after a penalty by Granite Bay on the extra point, Grant converted for two to give them a 29-21 lead.
Granite Bay had its chances in overtime, but on a fourth-and-long, Robertson scrambled out of the pocket for a first down but fell a few yards short, securing the victory for Grant.
“(Robertson) thought he could make a play with his legs, and we trust him to make the right play,” Evans said. “If he thought he could make the play with his legs, we are going to let him.”
Although the Grizzlies have started 0-2 in league, there is still hope to make it back to the postseason. Granite Bay (2-4) will be tested next week when they take on a winless Whitney team on the road.
“Next week is a big game for us,” said Evans. “It is hard to lose a close game like this, but our guys are good kids and they are going to fight and are going to rally.”