Jackets rally past West Davidson


TYRO | Up 10-0 with the ball at midfield early in the second quarter, West Davidson had Lexington on the ropes.

But the Jackets defense delivered a body blow, and Marquez Grayson followed with a haymaker that ignited a 40-17 Lexington victory at Glosson Stadium on Friday night. Grayson followed a Lexington fumble recovery with a 54-yard touchdown run, and that completely swung the momentum away from the home team. He finished with 155 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, then delivered the final dagger by taking a fourth-down screen pass 18 yards for another score.

Lexington coach Kwayu Graham was happy to have his playmaker back in uniform, after Grayson missed four weeks of action with an injury. “That was a big play,” Graham said. “Our kids are learning to win, they’re learning to play in big games. They’re learning to overcome and persevere.”

Most of their adversity, at least in the early going, was of their own doing. Lexington committed 11 penalties in the first half for 119 yards. But West was nearly as guilty, as the Dragons were flagged 10 times for 101 yards before the intermission. And two of the Dragons’ infractions came at the most inopportune times — killing great field position after the Jackets snapped a ball over the punter’s head deep in their own territory, and giving Lexington a second chance after missing a PAT.

That was frustrating for West coach Dale Barnes. “To be able to beat a good football team like Lexington … you can’t fall to the level of play that we fell to, and have as many penalties and mistakes in the first half,” Barnes lamented. “We’re getting late hit penalties, we’re getting block in the back penalties … we get one down here when we’ve got the ball in the shadow of the goalpost, and we get a dang penalty well after the play’s over.”

That emotional high played to the Dragons’ advantage early, as David Monk booted a 39-yard field goal following Lexington’s miscue on the punt. West forced Lexington to punt on its next possession, then promptly marched the ball 75 yards on 12 plays. Kyle Smith capped off the drive with a 1-yard TD run, and just like that the home team led 10-0.

West’s defense forced a three-and-out on Lexington’s next possession, and took over at midfield with a chance to take complete control. “West was ready to fight tonight, and I respect that,” Graham said. “I respect Coach Barnes, and I respect those kids. They played hard.”

But with that golden opportunity before them, disaster struck. West fumbled a handoff, and Lexington’s Danford Carpenter fell on it. On the next snap, Grayson took a handoff, burst right up the middle and raced 54 yards to paydirt.

This time, West responded. The Dragons rolled 74 yards — 41 of which came on Lexington penalties — and Austin Teague hit Zach Queen with a 25-yard touchdown pass to push the home team back in front 17-7.

From there, it was all Lexington. West only managed three first downs on its next six possessions, and didn’t cross midfield again until its final possession of the night.

In the meantime, the Jackets’ offense hit its stride. Grayson made it 17-14 with a 1-yard run with 3:26 left in the second quarter, then Raekwon Byrd found Malik Hargrave with a 12-yard touchdown pass just before the half to give the Jackets their first lead of the night at 21-17.

They picked up where they left off after the intermission, as Byrd found Mel Covington for a 23-yard scoring strike then, on fourth-and-goal from the West 18, hit Grayson with a screen pass that he took to the house. Dutrey Rose finished off the scoring with a 56-yard scamper in the final three minutes.

Lexington, now 2-0 in the CCC, 3-5 overall, travels to Salisbury on Friday, while West (0-2, 3-4) visits Thomasville on Friday.

Notes: Smith finished with 30 carries for 105 yards for the Dragons … Byrd was 9-of-16 passing for 123 yards for Lexington … Ricky Holmes, Justin Burton and Tim Erving intercepted passes for the Jackets.



Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or jason.queen@the-dispatch.com.