McHenry leads Cougars to 54-37 playoff victory at Graves County

Q’Daryius McHenry, Grayson County’s sophomore running back who transferred in from Ohio County before the start of the season, rushed for 357 yards and six touchdowns last Friday evening in Mayfield as the Cougars advanced in the 2018 football playoffs with a 54-35 victory over the Graves County Eagles.

Despite the 300-mile round trip involved in getting these two teams together, the Cougars and the Eagles will be in the same district for the foreseeable future. McHenry and the Cougars gave the Eagles a lot to think about when they play next year in district competition.

As a team, Grayson County ran for a total of 500 yards. In addition to McHenry, senior quarterback Noah Bullock ran for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Throwing the ball, Bullock was 3-4 for 81 yards.

The Cougars got off to a story-book beginning, getting a pair of touchdowns in the game’s first six minutes. After the Eagles went three-and-out on their first possession, the Cougars drove 68 yards in seven plays for their first score at the 7:45 mark. McHenry took it in from five yards out to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, which may have been an onside kick or just a squib that bounced off an Eagle player, the Cougar covered the loose ball at the Graves 37-yard line. Three plays later Bullock scored following a 14-yard run straight up the middle. Logan Raymer’s extra point was blocked to make it 13-0 at the 6:43 mark.

At this point, the Graves quarterback, senior Ryan Mathis, began heating up. In all, Mathis threw 39 times, completing 21 passes for 359 yards and five touchdowns. Mathis led the Eagles on back-to-back drives of 65 and 69 yards to take their only lead of the night, 14-13. Mathis completed touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Nelson Browning of 24 and 63 yards for both scores.

That lead did not last long, though, as on the Cougars’ next play from scrimmage McHenry broke free on a 63-yard romp that put the Cougars back on top to stay. The extra-point failed, but the Cougars were on their way leading 19-14, which is how the first quarter ended.

The Eagles were forced to punt on their next possession, and the Cougars took over at their own 15-yard line. Two McHenry runs moved the ball to the Cougar 37, where McHenry got free again for another long touchdown run. A two-point conversion then made it 27-14.

Grayson County added one more score before the end of the first half, moving 55-yards in 10 plays with McHenry taking it in from the four to make it 33-14 at the half.

Midway through the third quarter, the Eagles were threatening, having moved to the Cougar 26. But on third-and-seven, a Mathis pass was tipped by his receiver, and Bullock was able to dive and intercept the ball at the Cougar 13.

Grayson County then ran 6:19 off the clock with a seven-play, 87-yard touchdown drive with McHenry carrying in from the two to make it 40-14 with 1:50 left in the third quarter.

The Cougars forced another Eagle punt and as the fourth quarter began, and took about a minute-and-a-half to move 61 yards for another score. McHenry carried in from the two with 10:25 left to play to make it 47-14.

The Eagles responded with a lightning strike on their next possession. Backed up at their own eight, Mathis hit sophomore race Richards on a screen pass and Richards took it the distance to score at the 7:12 mark and make it 47-22 following a two-point conversion.

Graves then successfully pulled off an onside kick, taking over at their own 47-yard line. Seven plays later the Eagles scored again with Mathis completing a 17-yard scoring toss to Richards to make it 47-29.

If Cougar fans were getting nervous at that point, the Cougars took all doubt away with a 46-yard drive for their final score of the evening. That man, McHenry, finished off the drive with a 28-yard scamper to make it 54-29 with 3:12 left to play.

The Eagles added one last, meaningless touchdown with a minute left in the game to make the final score 54-35.

Grayson County will be on the road again this Friday as they travel down to Bowling Green to take on the South Warren Spartans once again. The Spartans, who are one of the top-ranked teams in the state, beat Grayson County 41-7 at Cougar Field back in September. That game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

By Don Brown, Local Sports
Reach Don at donbrown@k105.com