The parking lots were full of tailgating and inflatable slides. Shuttles carried fans from the UT Tyler parking lot over to Grace Community. Food trucks crowded the sidewalk and a sea of blue and orange T-shirts covered the packed stands at Clyde-Perkins Stadium as Grace Community (4-2) took on Bullard Brook Hill (3-2) in a district matchup Friday night.

The game doubled as the Cougars’ homecoming game and they took the victory, defeating the Guard 55-14.

Both sides started slow with an uneventful first seven minutes of the game. However, Grace’s defense took the stage with an interception by Adam Graham to give the Cougars the ball on their own 5-yard line. Jonny Spitzer then took the ball and ran with it scoring a touchdown on an 88-yard carry plus the extra point for a 7-0 lead and the only points in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Brook Hill got the ball and worked its way downfield on a successful drive comprised of six plays that ultimately led to a successful pass from Grant Hanks that found Gabe Lucio in the end zone. A good PAT tied the game at seven.

With 3:27 left in the half, the Guard took its only lead of the game with a quarterback rush by Hanks from 4 yards out to go up 14-7. However, with 43 seconds left in the half, the Cougars answered with a QB keeper of its own as Chandler Nutt made a 16-yard run to score and tie the game at 14 going into halftime.

Coming out of the half, it was all Grace as the Cougars dominated and capitalized on Brook Hill errors to put 40 points on the board over the course of the next two quarters. Spitzer picked up his second TD of the game with a 5-yard run to go up 21-14 and four minutes later Nutt found Graham in the end zone for another touchdown. The kick was blocked as Grace held a 27-14 lead going to the fourth.

The Guard was able to hold the Cougars off for the first seven minutes until the wheels started to fall apart.

Nutt ran in for the touchdown from 11 yards out with 7:22 left to play. Grace then recovered two consecutive short kicks which led to two rushing touchdowns by Zach Tatman.

Brook Hill looked to chip away at the 48-14 lead but on the second play of the drive, the Guard fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Cougars. Grace moved the chains for the final time as Josh Spitzer scored from 19 yards out for the last points of the game.

Grace moves to an overall record of 4-2 and will next play All Saints Episcopal at 7 p.m. Friday at Clyde-Perkins Stadium. Brook Hill moves to an overall record of 3-2 and will next play T.K. Gorman at 7 p.m. at Herrington Stadium on Friday.

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