Despite fighting back, Webb falls to unbeaten Grace by 3

KARNS — Webb School of Knoxville head football coach David Meske was proud to see his team mount a comeback rally against unbeaten Grace Christian Academy. The comeback, however, came up a bit short — a half-yard short to be precise.

“I was really proud of the way we played in the second half,” Meske said after Webb came up on the short end of a 24-21 decision Friday night, Oct. 2, at GCA’s Jerry Disney Family Sports Complex. “We lost our composure at the end of the first half and that’s not what we do. That’s not Webb football.

“But we came back in the second half, and these kids gave themselves a chance to win, and that’s all you can ask.”

The Spartans (3-3 overall, 2-1 in Division II-AA East Region play) trailed 24-14 with 2 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the third quarter after Caleb Curcio’s 5-yard scoring run for Grace.

But Webb pulled to within 24-21 on an 8-yard TD run by Dominic Vance midway through the fourth quarter after Rams quarterback Cooper Riggs was intercepted by Webb’s Bradee McCoy.

The Spartans made a defensive stop, forcing Grace to punt. Webb took over at its own 46-yard line with 4:17 left in the game. Driving to the Rams 35, the Spartans faced a fourth-and-5 when quarterback Charlie Robinson connected with Jackson Baker, who appeared to have the first down. But the ball was spotted just inside the 31, short of the first-down line by a half-yard. The Rams (7-0, 3-0) took possession and ran out the clock.

About the spot, Meske said, “I couldn’t tell.”

Grace Christian head coach Rusty Bradley had a different perspective. “(Baker) caught the ball and he came up short,” he said. “Our kids found a way to win this game — and this was fun.

“You knew Webb wasn’t going away. You knew that they were going to play as hard as they could, and they did. We’ll probably see them again (in the state playoffs),” Bradley added.

Down 3-0, the Spartans answered and took the lead with eight minutes left in the second quarter when Elijah Bane scored on a 1-yard plunge. Otto Niendorff added the extra point.

Things then unraveled for the Spartans, as the Rams scored 14 unanswered points while Robinson threw an interception.

“We had a chance to win, but we’ve just got to keep playing and getting better,” Robinson said. “The team has to get better keeping our composure, and I need to get better at that, too.”

Webb, which trailed 17-7 at the half thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Riggs to Michael Human, pulled to within 17-14 on an 11-yard scoring run by Brandon Winton.