RUTLEDGE — It didn’t take long for Ty Overbay to show what kind of night he was going to have.
The speedy sophomore from Grainger took the second play from scrimmage 55 yards for a touchdown and that was the first of many highlight reel plays Overbay made as he helped lead the Grizzlies to an impressive 43-21 win over Cumberland Gap at The Den Friday night. He finished the game with 143 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns with two on the ground and one through the air.
“He is an electric player, that’s the word I would use for Ty,” Grizzlies head coach Chad Tate said. “We want the ball in his hands and we were able to do that and he made a big play there early.”
Overbay wasn’t the only Grizzly to have a huge outing on Friday as quarterback Dawson Holt had 125 all-purpose yards and added 4.5 tackles and an interception return for 40 yards on the defensive side of the ball. Kaden Cardoza added 117 all-purpose yards for the victorious Grizzlies.
Grainger was affective in using both quick strike opportunities as well as their punishing ground game that gobbled up both time and yards in multiple scoring drives. Three of the Grizzlies’ scoring drives took two plays or less while two others took nine or more plays.
Tate said mixing up the offense was a key to success against the Panthers. “We want to have our big plays but we also want to be able to grind it out. Cumberland Gap is a well-coached football team and were able to move the ball but in the first quarter, we were able to have a great second drive and went down and scored. It seemed like we had to overcome adversity with penalties and little things we have to clean up but we were able to move on to the next play and not let it get us down.”
After Overbay’s opening score and Cardoza’s 2-point conversion gave Grainger an early lead, Cumberland Gap answered with a scoring drive on their own.
Quarterback Caden Brunsma hit Holden McDaniel for a 48-yard strike and after Drew Ramsey’s extra point, the Panthers were only down 8-7.
The Grizzlies next drive was a methodical one as they chewed up nine minutes off the clock on a 13-play possession that was capped by Overbay’s second score of the night, this time from 21 yards out on the first play of the second quarter. Reggie McBee’s conversion made it 16-7, Grainger.
Brunsma answered the call once more for the Panthers as he brought his team to within three at 16-13 on a four-yard keeper. That was as close as Cumberland Gap could get, however, as it was all Grizzlies from that point on. Holt attempted his first pass attempt of the game and it was successful to say the least as he found Overbay who did the rest on a 45-yard scoring play. The conversion failed but Grainger was still in good shape as they led 22-13. The first half ended on a high note for the Grizzlies as a Panthers late drive came to a screeching halt as Cardoza picked off a Panthers’ pass and took it 40 yards on the final play to end the threat.
The Grizzlies’ defense was superb all night long and that was highlighted in Cumberland Gap’s first drive of the second half where they were stopped on a fourth down play. Grainger kept the pressure up on the offensive side as well as Landon Patterson, one several quarterbacks the Grizzlies used in the game, scored from seven yards away. Samantha Barker was true on the extra point boot and Grainger pushed the advantage out to 29-13.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Panthers lost the ball and Cardoza made them play for the mishap as on the first play after recovering the ball, Cardoza was off to the races for a 27-yard touchdown as the Grizzlies were rolling 36-13 after netting two scores in only 11 seconds. The lead ballooned to 30 points when Holt raced 54 yards for a score and Barker kicked through the extra point to make the tally 43-13, Grizzlies.
The final score of the game came when Lance Owens scored on a two-yard rush late in the contest and then converted the two-point attempt to make the final score 43-21. The Panthers were led by Holden McDaniel who appeared to be everywhere on the field all night long. He had 103 yards on nine catches, kicked a 41-yard punt, had 57 yards on kickoff returns and led the Cumberland Gap defense with six tackles.
Tate was delighted with the way his team performed in the season opener and heaped praise on both his team and staff. “I have to give it to our coaching staff. We didn’t have hardly any guys back who had touched a football in a Friday night game and we only started two seniors on defense. That showed at times but I am so proud of our coaching staff for getting us ready to come out and play and get a big win as well as our players going out and playing well. I am very happy with that and I appreciate those guys and all the hard work they put in.”
The Grizzlies won’t have very long to rest as they play next Thursday at Pigeon Forge. “We have to get ready to go, coaches and players,” Tate said of the upcoming tilt with the Tigers. “Pigeon Forge is a much improved football team and we will have our hands full. We are young and this will be our first road test and I know we will go play and get after it.”
Grizzlies 43, Panthers 21
Cumberland Gap 7 6 0 8— 21
Grainger 8 14 14 7— 43
G - Ty Overbay 55-run (Kaden Cardoza run)
CG - Holden McDaniel 48-pass from Caden Brunsma (Drew Ramsey kick)
G - Overbay 21-run (Reggie McBee run)
CG - Brunsma 4-run (kick failed)
G - Overbay 45-pass from Dawson Holt (run failed)
G - Landon Patterson 7-run (Samantha Barker kick)
G - Cardoza 27-run (Barker kick)
G - Holt 54-run (Barker kick)
CG - Lance Owens 2-run (Owens run)
First Down 14 16
Rushes-yards 25-140 39-317
Passing 118 45
Att-Comp-Int 21-11-2 3-1-0
Total Offense 258 362
Punts 1-41 2-20
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 3-21 8-93