GRAPE CREEK – Having played just one game since Sept. 11 might normally be a cause for concern heading into a district opener, instead the Bangs Dragons put forth their most dominant performance of the season.
Bangs remained undefeated through five games and started its quest for the District 2-3A Division II championship with a 62-0 thrashing of the Grape Creek Eagles Friday night.
“Wins are hard to come by, so we’re really proud of the way we took care of business,” said Bangs third-year head coach Kyle Maxfield. “We’re 1-0 in district, that was our goal. Now we try and get to 2-0.”
The Dragons (5-0, 1-0) generated 565 yards of total offense – 337 rushing and 228 passing – as quarterback Ethan Cortez threw four touchdown passes and added 112 yards and one score on the ground, while Ethan Sanchez amassed 175 rushing yards with three trips to the end zone.
“That’s our 1-2 punch,” Maxfield said of Sanchez and Cortez, “but we always have other weapons. If they’re trying to stop those two, we can get other players the ball. But overall it starts with our guys up front and we’re continually getting better, and our playmakers are making plays and that’s what it’s all about.”
Guy Powell caught a 77-yard touchdown pass in limited action as he continues to battle a lingering ankle injury, while Damion Santillanes caught a team-high three passes for 29 yards and a touchdown while adding 46 yards on the ground. Brayton Wedeman also finished with three receptions for 24 yards, while both of Trevor Bowers’ catches resulted in touchdowns covering a total of 87 yards.
Braxton Melling converted extra points following eight of Bangs’ nine touchdowns.
Defensively, the Dragons recorded their third shutout of the season and surrendered just 40 yards of total offense and three first downs to Grape Creek (1-5, 0-1), who punted seven times. Bangs also created three turnovers – two fumble recoveries by Wyatt Lykins and an interception by Wedeman – and turned all three takeaways into touchdowns.
“The turnovers were big,” Maxfield said. “Our defense is creating turnovers. As the year has progressed, we’ve gotten a little more physical. It’s good to see that on defense. I know we’re getting better at tackling.”
Bangs scored just 1:15 into the contest, overcoming a false start and a holding call on its second and third snaps of the game. The fourth play was a 77-yard connection from Cortez to Powell that provided the Dragons with all the points they needed.
“We had a little bit of rust from the open weeks even though we scored on that first possession,” said Maxfield, whose team did commit seven penalties for 50 yards and turned over the ball twice, though one was the result of a line drive 9-yard punt that hit a Bangs lineman in the back.
Grape Creek’s first drive reached the Bangs 43 where a fourth-and-6 pass attempt was picked off by Wedeman and returned to the Eagle 22. Two plays later Bangs was in the end zone thanks to an 18-yard scamper by Cortez, and the Dragons carried a 14-0 lead into the second period.
On the second play of the second quarter, Bangs extended its lead to 20-0 following a 44-yard dash to the end zone by Sanchez. The Dragons didn’t score again until the 2:50 mark of the second period – thanks in part to an interception by Grape Creek – when Sanchez again found the end zone from 9 yards out.
After a three-and-out, the Dragons got the ball back with 2:06 left in the half and traveled 65 yards in seven plays as Cortez connected with Bowers on a 23-yard scoring strike to increase the advantage to 34-0 with 29 seconds still on the clock.
“What was impressive to me was the way we executed our two-minute offense,” Maxfield said. “We weren’t able to work on that, and it still needs some work, but we were able to get a score and that was promising to me.”
The Dragons tacked on three more touchdowns in the third period and the lead ballooned to 55-0.
Cortez hurled a 20-yard touchdown pass to Santillanes at the 8:06 mark, Sanchez tacked on a 34-yard scoring sprint at 4:05, then Sanchez scored again from 2 yards out at 2:31 after Lykins recorded the first of his two fumble recoveries.
Lykins later pounced on another loose ball at the Bangs 31, which set the stage for the final scoring drive of the night. With 7:03 left in the contest, Cortez tossed a bubble screen to Bowers, who broke a couple of tackles en route to a 64-yard catch and run to the end zone for the final 62-point margin of victory.
The Dragons – seeking their first district crown since 2008 – will host Ingram Moore next week for homecoming. Ingram Moore (5-1, 0-1), previously unbeaten until Friday, dropped its district opener to Sonora, 28-13.
Bangs 62, Grape Creek 0
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bangs 14 20 21 7 – 62
Grape Creek 0 0 0 0 – 0
B: Guy Powell 77 pass from Ethan Cortez (Braxton Melling kick), 10:45, 1st
B: Cortez 18 run (Melling kick), 6:07, 1st
B: Ethan Sanchez 44 run (kick failed), 11:44, 2nd
B: Sanchez 9 run (Melling kick), 2:50, 2nd
B: Trevor Bowers 23 pass from Cortez (Melling kick), 0:29, 2nd
B: Damion Santillanes 20 pass from Cortez (Melling kick), 8:06, 3rd
B: Sanchez 34 run (Melling kick), 4:05, 3rd
B: Sanchez 2 run (Melling kick), 2:31, 3rd
B: Bowers 64 pass from Cortez (Melling kick), 6:20, 4th
Bangs Grape Creek
First Downs 24 3
Total Offense 565 40
Rushes-Yards 34-337 42-32
Passing Yards 228 8
Comp-Att-Int 10-14-1 2-4-1
Punts 0-0.0 7-29.6
Fumbles Lost 1 2
RUSHING: Bangs – Ethan Sanchez 12-175, 3 TDs; Ethan Cortez 10-112, TD; Damion Santillanes 3-46; Jesse Sterling 3-10; Guy Powell 1-1; Trevor Lorah 1-1; Brayton Wedeman 4-(-8). Grape Creek – Isaiah Briones 7-29; Lucky Vargas 6-24; Levi Wilson 6-20; Landon Crow 3-11; Jorge Rodriguez 8-7; Cougar Jetton 2-3; Koby Wilhelm 4-(-2); Dalton Dillon 3-(-3); Team 3-(-57).
PASSING: Bangs – Cortez 10-14-1-228, 4 TDs. Grape Creek – Vargas 1-1-0-6; Rodriguez 1-2-1-2; Crow 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Bangs – Santillanes 3-29, TD; Wedeman 3-24; Trevor Bowers 2-87, 2 TDs; Guy Powell 1-77, TD; Logan Massey 1-11. Grape Creek – Collin Humphries 1-6; Dillon 1-2.