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Grandview rallies for first victory

TOPPENISH - The Greyhound football team battled back from a two-touchdown deficit to defeat Toppenish 34-27 last Friday in CWAC football play.

The host Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the first quarter before Grandview answered with a 30-yard touchdown run by Jose Castilleja.

Toppenish tacked on a third touchdown and led 20-8 at the half.

Castilleja ran for two more touchdowns in the third quarter, one for 30 and the other 60 yards, but Grandview still trailed 27-20 heading into the fourth quarter.

The drama continued into the final frame, when Grandview's A.J. Valenzuela found daylight and scampered for a 75-yard touchdown run.

After the failed point after attempt, the Greyhounds trailed just 27-26.

But Toppenish wasn't quite done, and the Wildcats looked like they might seal the deal on a drive that took them all the way down to the Grandview goal line.

Grandview's defense held, though, and forced Toppenish to turn the ball over on downs, denying the Wildcats from hitting paydirt on four tries.

Grandview got the ball back in the shadow of its own goal post and had just a little over two minutes to work with.

They barely needed a minute, it turned out, to get what proved to be the game winning score.

The marathon drive ended when Grandview quarterback Anthony Mendoza, filling in for injured QB Derek Swearingen, threw a 2-yard touchdown strike to Brendan Bardwell.

Mendoza then converted the two-point conversion to top off the drive that put Grandview in front for the first time all night.

The bad news was that Grandview's drive was a bit too quick and gave the ball back to Toppenish with 57 ticks left on the clock.

The Wildcats got to about the Greyhound-30 in the waning seconds, but their drive fell short as time expired.

Grandview Coach Rick Ramos praised the play of his defense in holding Toppenish to just one touchdown in the second half.

"Our defense never gives up," says Garcia. The coach noted part of the defensive success was his players' ability to "stay at home" against the Wildcats' double wing ground attack. "Eric Castillo did a great job," Garcia said of his defensive standout.

As for Grandview's second half surge on offense, Garcia said his team's conditioning helped play a part. He also gave a nod to the Greyhound offensive line.

"Our line stepped up," he said. "We don't have the postseason to play for, but the guys are playing for pride. They want to get Jose (Castilleja) 1,000 yards rushing for the season."

They might just reach that goal as Friday night Castilleja had 221 yards rushing for three touchdowns. Valenzuela also went over the century mark, running for 131 yards.

Through the air, Mendoza had 125 passing yards and Bardwell caught three passes for 43 yards.

With the first win of the season under its belt, Grandview (1-4, 1-5) will return home this Friday to take on East Valley.

Garcia, though, says he's going to let his players relish Friday's victory.

"They were pretty emotional," he said. "It was great to see their hard work pay off and to see the look on their faces."

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