It’s time to get serious.
Cody Hatfield ran for 155 yards — eclipsing the 1,000 mark for the season — and three touchdowns to lead Graham to a 46-8 Mountain Empire District victory over Narrows on a cold Friday night at Mitchell Stadium.
Graham (7-3, 3-2) will open Group A, West Section, Division 2 playoffs, possibly next Saturday night against an opponent to be determined.
“The way we feel about next week is everybody starts over at 0-0,” Hatfield said. “Nobody has won and nobody has lost and we just have to go and practice hard.”
Both Graham and Narrows (1-9, 1-4) had little time to prepare for this game because of snow earlier in the week, but it didn’t seem to bother the G-Men, who took a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and 40-0 at the break.
Graham led 46-0 with less than a minute to play when Narrows’ Dustin Meadows returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown to end the G-Men’s hopes at a second shutout in three weeks.
“I was pleased with how well we got out on them,” Graham head coach Mike Williams said. “We still have some things we need to work on, I hated to give up a kick return like we did there at the end, but overall a good effort.
“We got on them early, which is what we wanted, and I am just glad it went our way and we will see how the playoffs unfold now.”
Hatfield needed 112 yards to accumulate 1,000 yards on the season, and was just a couple of yards away heading into the second half.
“We came out at half and Coach told me all I needed was one run to break 1,000, and I guess my one run was pretty good,” Hatfield said.
Very good. Hatfield got one carry from the Graham 2-yard line and dashed 37 yards before getting caught from behind, and was then given the rest of the night to watch from the sidelines.
“They told me he was a yard or two away so we stuck him in and he nearly ripped a 98-yarder, but I am real happy for him,” Williams said. “He got 1,000 rushing and of course we have some more games to go so hopefully we can just keep adding to that total.”
Graham wasted no time jumping ahead 7-0, taking the opening kick and driving 63 yards on five plays, including a 12-yard run by Hatfield, an 18-yard scamper by Michael Thompson and an 18-yard screen pass from Spencer Sheets to Charlie Benfield.
Hatfield capped off the drive with a 3-yard run and Samuel Stowers connected on the first of four extra point conversions. The G-Men had 16 plays of at least 10 yards, including 11 in the opening half.
That was followed by an onside kick recovered by Benfield. Five plays later, Sheets — who connected with Colby Hill from 20 yards on the drive — scored on a 1-yard plunge, and the 14-0 lead with 9:05 still on the clock.
Narrows finished with four turnovers, losing three fumbles and an interception.
“That didn’t help, Graham has got a good football team, they jumped on us early there, they had a couple of onside kicks and we just couldn’t recover from that point,” Narrows head coach Kelly Lowe said. “They have got a good football team,
“Our kids hung in there and they played hard and they battled to the end and I am proud of that. I wish Graham the best of luck as they go on in their season.”
Graham scored on its next possession following a Narrows fumble on one play, a 47-yard scoring run by Hatfield. Another fumble on a muffed punt gave the G-Men the ball back and another score followed on a 30-yard touchdown run by Hugh Clary to build the lead to 28-0.
“We didn’t really get a good week of preparation to get ready for Narrows,” Hatfield said. “We missed two days of practice because of the snow so Coach told us if we come out here and play hard that we would come away with a victory.”
Two more scores were added in the second quarter, a 1-yard run by Hatfield and 8-yard pass from Hill to Mark Large.
Graham outgained the Green Wave 277-80 in the opening half, and 368-106 for the game. The G-Men ran for 304 yards, led by Hatfield, Clary (5-51), Kyshan Lee (5-46) and Thompson (6-41).
Defensively, Graham was stingy, accumulating at least nine tackles for negative yardage, which brought a smile to Williams, whose G-Men struggled to do the same in last week’s loss to Fort Chiswell.
“The defense played well, they had a few plays on us, but overall we talked about getting some more TFLs tonight,” Williams said. “We only had four last week which is a really low number of us.
“We put them in some long distance situations a couple of times which makes it hard for them.”
The second half moved fast with a moving clock, and the G-Men got on the board with 1:23 left on a 3-yard scoring pass by third string quarterback Roman Workman to Corey Monninger for the 46-0 lead.
Graham’s three quarterbacks were 5-for-5 for 64 yards.
Narrows, which was led by Rodney Perdue with 73 yards passing and Trevor Hart with 26 yards on the ground, struggle all season with injuries and lack of numbers, but Lowe certainly appreciates the effort the Green Wave, especially the nine seniors that will be lost to graduation.
“The kids who were there stepped up and played really good,” Lowe said. “Rodney threw the ball great tonight and he made some plays with his feet too. It is just one of those things, injuries are part of football and you have to regroup and battle back from them and that is just part of it...
“We are going to miss the seniors that we lose because they gave us everything they had, we are going to miss those guys. I am proud of those seniors, hats off to them. They hung in there and battled all year and it’s a great group of guys and I am proud to be associated with them.”
While Narrows will begin basketball practice on Monday, the G-Men will wait for an opponent and prepare for the postseason.
“We won’t know probably (who we play) until after the Saturday games pan out, that will finalize the points,” Williams said. “I feel fairly certain we will get a home game, but I don’t even know that for sure.
“We will just kind of wait and see and see what unfolds and whoever we are up against we will line up and play them.”
— Contact Brian Woodson
It’s time to get serious.
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