Gavin Oyler was the jack-of-all-trades for the Grain Valley offense Friday night against Grandview, doing a little bit of everything with the ball in his hands. For the games biggest play, he can thank those hands – especially his fingertips – for being so reliable.
Trailing 14-10, the Eagles were looking to capitalize on a one-handed interception from linebacker Seth Dankenbring that gave the offense the ball on the Grandview 40-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
Sensing the momentum, the Eagles went for the big pass down the seam to Oyler from quarterback Cole Keller. When the ball was in the air, it looked like it might have been overthrown.
“I saw it in the air and figured I had to take off and just run as fast as I could,” Oyler said. “I knew I had my guy beat, so I just had to go get the ball.”
Oyler stretched his arms out and hauled in Keller’s pass for the touchdown and a 16-14 lead. The Eagles pulled away from there for a 30-20 win.
“That ball he (Oyler) caught for the touchdown, I thought it was overthrown,” Grain Valley head coach David Allie said. “It was right on his fingertips.”
The Eagles offense took a little while to get going Friday night. The first half didn't see much of a rhythm from either team, as Grain Valley held a 10-8 lead. For the first two-plus quarters, they had three turnover on downs and two fumbles, but finally started to wear down the Bulldogs. With the running game starting to take shape, that opened up things in the passing game.
“Early on they were in cover 3, so we couldn’t take as many shots (down the field),” Oyler said. “We started to gash them with the run a little and they went man (defense). That’s when we were able to work our double moves.”
The interception by Dankenbring was the second turnover in as many plays for the Bulldogs after they had taken a 14-10 lead on a Rodrick Smith 55-yard touchdown run.
“That interception was a heck of a play by the linebacker,” Grandview head coach Jeremie Picard said. “He played it perfect. We were banking on them biting on the run. It was a huge turning point. Momentum in any game is a big deal. And the younger you are, the more power it has.”
After the Oyler touchdown, the Eagles defense forced a turnover on downs, which the offense turned into another score, a 7-yard run by Oyler to make it 23-14, his third score of the game. He caught seven balls for 115 yards and two scores, while running the ball five times for 15 yards and another score.
“He’s one of our playmakers,” Allie said of Oyler. “We want to get the ball in his hands.”
Eagles cornerback Willie Linear had an interception in the end zone on the next Bulldog drive, and two plays later, Trent Flake put the game away with a 79-yard touchdown run right up the middle to make it 30-14.
“We wore them down a little bit,” Allie said. “And my hats off to the defense. They were able to rise up. It was a total team effort.”
Grain Valley improved to 2-0 and will travel to Smithville next Friday. Grandview fell to 0-2 on the season and will host Winnetonka next week.