After winning their season openers, the Golden Valley Grizzlies and Royal Highlanders both looked to continue their winning ways as they met at Royal High School Friday night.
After cruising to a 30-0 victory over the Highland Bulldogs last week, the game against Royal didn’t start out as easy for the Grizzlies.
After a pair of possessions for both teams that led to punts, the Grizzlies took over with 5:24 left in the first quarter. A poor snap to quarterback Gary Rowe allowed the Highlanders to take over with the ball on the Grizzlies 39-yard line. This put the Grizzlies in familiar territory after losing 35 yards due to poor snaps last week in their 30-0 win over Highland of Palmdale.
The Highlanders then had some difficulty moving the ball against a stout Grizzly defense.
On a key fourth down Royal decided to go for it. The decision paid off as they came up big, moving the ball to the Grizzlies 28-yard line, good enough for the first down. Following that, Royal had three straight plays with no yardage gained. They again went for it on fourth down, and brought the ball to the Grizzlies 12-yard line, again good for the first down.
The very next play, Royal put the ball in the back of the end zone. They missed the PAT and the Grizzlies found themselves down by 6 with 1:56 left in the first quarter.
After a Jalin Lewis booming 41-yard kickoff return, the Grizzlies started to find some rhythm on offense.
As the first quarter came to a close, the Grizzlies had the ball in the redzone with 9 yards separating them from their first points of the game.
Starting the second quarter off with a bang, USC verbal commit, DeGabriel Floyd, ran in the 9-yard touchdown. After the PAT, Golden Valley was up 7-6 with 11:53 left in the first half.
It started looking like this game would be won by whoever’s defense could come up with the big plays. And big plays it was, as captain Ahvie Harris led by example, coming up with a one-handed interception to get the Grizzlies the ball back with 10:30 left in the half.
The offense was then able to capitalize and get 7 points from the possession via a 31-yard DJ Turner rushing touchdown. This put the Grizzlies up 14-6 with 9:51 left in the half. From there, the Royal offense struggled to get going again.
On the Royal punt, a bad snap led to a Grizzly fumble recovery on their own 40-yard line. Even though they had great field position the Grizzlies were unable to get anything going and had to punt themselves.
After another Royal possession that resulted in nothing, Grizzlies got the ball again. Leaving it to the last minute of play, Jalin Lewis tried to get the offense going and set them up with a 25-yard reception bringing the Grizzlies to the Highlanders’ 45-yard line with 26 seconds left in the half.
The Grizzlies were left empty-handed on the drive though, and entered halftime with a 14-6 lead.
Neither team could get anything going in the third quarter until the versatile Floyd came up with a pick to give the Grizzlies the ball on their 32-yard line with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Grizzlies then seemed to go the distance on the very next play, via a Jordan Anderson rush, but the touchdown was called back because of a holding call.
The offense overcame the penalty, and finished the drive with a Lewis 2-yard touchdown reception to put the Grizzlies up 21-6 by the end of the third quarter.
Royal then received the ball and started to find some success with their offense. On another fourth down attempt, the Grizzly defense came up empty and Royal wound up getting a 26-yard passing touchdown. They then capped that off with the 2-point conversion to get themselves back in the game down, 21-14.
The Grizzlies responded commandingly with a Floyd 4-yard rushing touchdown to cap the next possession and again put the Grizzlies up by 14. Yet again, the Highlanders responded and put together a solid possession that included a big 33-yard reception.
Once again, Royal converted a fourth down to bring the ball on the Grizzlies 1-yard line with 1:17 left in the game. The Grizzly defense was then able to have two tackles for loss. But third time was the charm for Royal as they ran in the 8-yard touchdown to give the Highlanders some hope for a positive result in the game.
On the ensuing onside kick, the Grizzlies recovered and were able to finish the game off winning, 28-21.
The Grizzlies did look a little shaky towards the end on defense and Coach Dan Kelley will likely be hoping for more big stops, especially when it comes to fourth downs. The team failed to stop the Highlanders on all of their fourth down attempts. However, he will be left pleased with the three key turnovers his team came away with in the game.
Additionally, quarterbacks Rowe, Zach Chevalier and Logan Morrison all warmed up as the game progressed and the team is also loaded with Turner and Anderson leading the backfield. With the offense averaging 415 all-purpose yards a game, it looks like the Grizzlies have a dynamic offense and this might be the key to another record-breaking season for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies will play at Crescenta Valley (1-0) next week as both teams will look to continue their perfect preseason.