Grace, TKG look to execute strengths

T.K. Gorman's Caleb Williams leads the area in rushing with 400 yards on 41 attempts. (Jaime R. Carrero | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Grace Community and T.K. Gorman present problems for one another.

Grace lost last week to a team that controlled the clock, something the Crusaders do well.

Gorman lost last week to a team with a dual-threat quarterback, of which the Cougars have two.

The cross-town rivals kick off another edition of their rivalry at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Clyde-Perkins Stadium, both trying to put a quick stop to an early season skid.

“We’re excited that we can go across the road and play Grace,” Gorman coach Rick Palmer said. “A lot of our kids are friends with those guys. It should be an exciting game.”

Grace (1-1) struggled with Eustace’s ball control last Friday. The Bulldogs’ consistent running game, combined with two Cougars turnovers to start drives, allowed Eustace to hold the ball for 22 minutes in the first half, including a 12-minute drive.

“That was quite an ordeal,” Grace coach Mike Maddox said. “They executed their game plan and we didn’t execute ours. It was very frustrating. “They ‘out-physicaled’ us.”

In the end, Eustace held off Grace’s comeback, aided by dropped passes by Cougasr receivers that could have gone for touchdowns.

Grace will face a potent ground game from Gorman (1-1), too. The Crusaders’ offensive line has paved the way for 372.5 yards per game on the ground, led by senior Caleb Williams, the area’s top rusher with 400 yards on 41 carries.

“It’s both working together,” Palmer said. “When (Williams) has a little daylight, he can run.”

Palmer said the offensive line is still making mistakes, grading out between 70 and 80 percent, but has been doing a good job.

“I think they run the ball real well,” Maddox said of Gorman. “I think they control the ball real well.”

The question will be if the big men up front can impose their will on Grace’s defensive linemen and control the clock like Eustace did against the Cougars.

“We try to do that every week; Grace is no different,” Palmer said. “We try to control the ball.”

Maddox said the Cougars, who have allowed 322.5 rushing yards per game compared to 31.5 passing, need to tackle better.

“I think we need to play better defense,” he said. “We need to get more people to the ball and make sure that when we tackle we move them back instead of letting them fall forward.”

On the other side of the ball, Grace is averaging 8.5 yards per play. Quarterback Blake White — or Garrett Newman — is a dual threat with 398 yards passing and 15 rushes for 144 yards.

Gorman faced a dual-threat quarterback last week in Quitman’s Andre Thompson, who rushed for 166 and passed for 215 more.

“They had some big plays,” said Palmer, whose defense was missing five starters. “We can’t afford to give them up.”

Grace senior receiver Grant Childress had the biggest play of last week’s game with a 69-yard run. But he’s questionable for tonight after leaving the Eustace game early with an injury.

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