Moody Murry Memorial Field had a standing-room-only crowd Friday night that included fans lining up three and four deep around the fence that surrounds the football field.
Those fans saw a heavyweight boxing match turn into a quick knockout as the Grain Valley Eagles routed longtime Missouri River Valley Conference West rival Odessa 53-21 on homecoming night.
“When we came out and saw all those fans – sitting and standing everywhere – we knew we had to win it for them as much as we did for us,” said quarterback Tate Collum, who helped the Eagles score 21 unanswered points in a third period that turned the game around.
“It’s so exciting to play in front of a crowd like this. It was like the entire community was here to support us, and I’m glad we could give them a good game and a win.”
After one quarter, it was 14-14. The Eagles then scored 11 points in the second quarter and took a 25-21 lead into the locker room. They were able to do that because of a big stop in the closing moments of the half. Odessa quarterback Josey Meierarend carried the ball just inches from the Eagles end zone as time expired on the clock.
Sophomore middle linebacker Seth Dankenbring, playing for the injured senior linebacker Tristan Pfeiffer (out for the season with an ACL injury), was one of many Eagles in on the tackle as they went into the locker room up 25-14.
“That was a huge play, and I think everyone on the field hit him,” said Dankenbring, who has drawn praise from his teammates for his run-stopping ability. “We stopped them, went into the locker room and made some adjustments and took care of business in the second half.”
His team’s approach in the second half made an impact of coach David Allie.
“That was such a big defensive stand,” Allie said, after his team improved to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the MRVC West. “We had all the momentum going into the locker room, and we brought that momentum out into the third period.
“There were two huge plays among all the big plays we made tonight – that stop and Ethan Macoubrie’s interception return for a touchdown in the third period. It’s the second week in a row Ethan has come through with a huge play – and we kind of like that.”
Macoubrie caught the game-winning touchdown against Harrisonville last Friday with no time showing on the clock.
Collum, who was 7 of 14 for 98 yards in the air and had eight carries for 88 yards, opened the third period with a 39-yard touchdown run. Ethan Grasher then scored on a 29-yard run and Macoubrie came up with the interception return for a TD to make it 46-21 with just 17 seconds left in the period.
“I think Meierarend was trying to throw it over me,” said Macoubrie, who returned the interception 16 yards for the score. “The defense and the offense stepped it up in the third period. We were all pretty excited going into the half after that big defensive stand at the end of the second period.”
Allie said it was a complete team effort.
“You have Tate, who is cool as a cucumber running the offense, Caleb Krell had the big first half (finishing the game with 23 carries for 194 yards and two touchdowns of 37 and 43 yards), we shut them out the second half and score 21 in the third period and Nate (Chaiprathum) gets the 32-yard field goal. Everyone contributed tonight.”
Michael Marquez was a two-way star, grabbing a 40-yard touchdown pass from Collum and ending the third period with the Eagles second interception of the night.
“When Tate threw that ball, I was so wide open, I thought, ‘I better not drop it,’” said Marquez, who finished with three receptions for 58 yards and a score. “Then I looked up and kind of lost it in the lights. But I found it right before it hit my hands.
“But this was a team win. Seth has come in and done a great job in place of Tristan – who is still our team leader, even though he is on the sidelines – and all the guys came to play tonight. We’re having so much fun. This is a brotherhood, and we love and care about each other, and I think you could see that by the way we played tonight.”