GRANGER – Using the darting running skills of tailback Carlos Reyna and a suffocating defense, the Granger Lions (2-0) built a sizeable lead by halftime en route to a 56-21 victory over the Frost Polar Bears (0-2) Friday night.
The Lions, who captured seven Snook turnovers in their first game, capitalized on three Polar Bears turnovers. On the game’s third play from scrimmage, Frost QB Antoni Alvarado rolled right and fired to seemingly open WR Chase Clayton running an outside curl route about 10 yards down field. Reyna, playing linebacker, jumped in front of the pass as Clayton neared the sideline. He made a few cuts behind some blocks of defensive linemen racing 42 yards for interception return touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
With RB Ramon Manrriquez cheering from the sideline unable to play while recovering from an injury suffered in the Polar Bears’ opener against Cayuga and Alvarado unable to connect with receivers, Frost’s offense was forced to punt five times in the first half.
While the Polar Bears accumulated 23 total yards and were unable to convert a first down in the opening half, the Lions scored after four Frost punts and an unsuccessful attempt to run on a fourth down play.
DJ McClelland’s one-yard sprint to the left corner pylon with 4:56 left in the first quarter capped-off a nine-play Lions drive for a 13-0 lead. The Lions attempted a two-point conversion, but QB Thomas Rhodes rolled right with heavy pressure from d-linemen Leopoldo Perez and Landon Rudy and fired into the hands of Polar Bear Hunter Perry at the two-yard line.
On the next three Granger possessions, the 5 foot 5, 125-pound Reyna displayed his darting ability to find seams near his blocks and hit the accelerator in the open-field. He had touchdown runs of 15, 52, and 36 yards. He finished with 122 yards rushing on just six carries.
Just as the second quarter began, the Bears faced a fourth-and-one at their own 49-yard line. Feeling revived after Alvarado hit Clayton for a 12-yard connection on third down, the Bears tried a quarterback-sneak. Granger held the line. On the ensuing play, Rhodes hit Johnny Ryder running down the sideline for a touchdown and a 34-0 lead.
After Granger scored on the opening series of the second half for a 56-0 lead, Frost ripped out the running section of their playbook and went to the Tony Alvarado air-show.Alvarado completed 5 of 7 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns in the game’s last quarter and a half.
After hitting WR Korben Bowling for 28 yards and a Polar Bears first down, Alvarado hit Bowling again running in stride on a go-pattern down the right sideline for a 47-yard touchdown.
The Polar Bears spirit revived. With cheerleaders, the Tundra Team, fans, and an animated Manrriquez yelling gleefully, the Frost defense felt emboldened. Perez fired out from his left DE stance to nail McClelland for a 3-yard loss. On Granger’s third down play, he and Christian Bryant swallowed McClelland for a 5-yard loss forcing the Lions to punt.
As the fourth quarter began, Alvarado hit Clayton on an outside curl route. Clayton pivoted and cut back inside for a 21-yard gain. Two plays later, Alvarado, finding blocks from Jeffery Watson and Perez, zipped a pass in stride again to Bowling running down the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown.
The Bears defense with hard hitting tackles by LB Preston Rasco, Perez, DT Watson, and a Bryant sack stymied Granger. Watson, LB Dillon Prickett, and DB David Alvarado gang-tackled Tripp Wilke two yards shy of the stick on the Lions' fourth down conversion attempt.
On the next play, Alvarado took a shotgun snap and fired long.He hit Bowling in stride again. This time along the left sideline for a 78-yard touchdown. Bowling finished the game with four catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Though the Bears lost 56-21, the second-half Alvarado air-show had players abuzz to strap on the cleats next week when Frost will travel to Itasca.