GRAFTON— The Bearcat football team had fans on the edge of their seats on Friday night, as the Grafton program battled their way back from a 20-point deficit to take the come-from- behind victory over the Liberty Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers were in command of the contest to start quickly building a comfortable lead over the Bearcats, racking up 20 points midway through the second quarter, while holding Grafton scoreless.
However, after Liberty’s second quarter TD, Bearcat Isaac Lough found an opening in the defense off a kickoff and ran the ball 92 yards, putting Grafton on the board, awakening his team, as well as the quiet crowd.
The Mountaineers didn’t let go easily though, challenging the Cats and answering Lough’s touchdown with one of their own, advancing the score to 27-7, with just under six minutes to go in the first half of action.
Lough once again received the kickoff, again looking for the gap in the Liberty defense and rushing the return 82 yards, positioning the Bearcats on the Liberty 11-yard line.
Grafton was able to take advantage of the field position, and with halftime nearing, Bearcat Tanner Moats punched it in on the fourth play of the drive making the score a bit tighter at 27-14.
From there, Grafton’s defensive efforts refused to allow Liberty to gain much yardage on their next drive, forcing the Mountaineers to punt the ball away for the first time during the contest.
Grafton took over on their own 48, where Moats would connect on three of his four pass attempts, all which were intended for Kaden Delaney. The pass, catch duo moved Grafton into the redzone quickly, allowing Delaney to claim another TD for the Bearcats on a 24-yard catch that he ran into the endzone, putting Grafton down 20 to 27, just before halftime.
To start the second half of action, Liberty attempted to recover the onside kick, but failed to do so, putting Grafton in good field position that they used to their advantage.
While the Mountaineer defense held the Cats, making it difficult for them to move down the field, Grafton would end up covering the 50-yards and Moats found the endzone to tie the game 27-27.
As the third quarter wore on, Liberty took over with a successful 68-yard drive, finding the endzone, and sealing the extra point attempt, to once again take the lead, 34-27.
Back and forth action continued, and Moats once again answered the Liberty TD with another of his own. However, the Cats were unable to tie the contest on this drive, as the Mountaineers managed to block the field goal attempt and maintain the lead as the game headed into the final minutes of action.
With Moats under pressure from both the clock and the Liberty defense, he narrowly escaped the sack and sent a 25-yard pass sailing to Bearcat Justin Spiker with less than a minute remaining.
The pass connected with Spiker in the left side end zone, finally giving Grafton its first and only lead of the night, that would also secure the 41-34 come-from-behind victory for the Bearcats.
On the night, Moats connected for 13 of his 17 passes, totaling 159 yards, and recorded two TDs. He also led the Bearcats with 68 yards on 17 carries.
Grafton’s Aaron Barker added 64 yards of his own on eight carries and Delaney recorded nine catches for 112 yards.
With the exciting last-minute win, the Bearcats move to 3-2 on the season.
Grafton will take on Elkins at home this Friday night at 7:00 p.m.