CROSS PLAINS - The East Robertson Indians were still searching for their first win of the season heading into their Week 3 matchup against the Cascade Champions.
And after falling behind by two scores in the third quarter, it seemed like the Indians would have to wait at least another week to get into the win column.
But thanks in large part to a standout performance from sophomore Taylor Groves, East Robertson scored 21 unanswered points in the second half points to take a 21-14 victory over Cascade in a crucial Region 4-2A contest.
The comeback marked the first career win for the East Robertson coach Atlee Pond.
“I’m just proud for these kids,” Pond said. “We’ve been through a lot with our quarterback (Cameron Swift) going out in the spring and everyone having such high expectations for us at the beginning.
“I think that’s one of the things that’s been our downfall - us just thinking we were going to come out and beat everybody. We played two good football teams to start the season, but I’m proud of these kids tonight.”
Groves, East Robertson’s Mr. Do-It-All, carried the Indians by making plays in all phases of the game. He finished with a rushing touchdown, a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown and an interception that set up the game-winning score.
On offense, Groves saw action at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He also served as the team’s punter.
“Game in and game out, he lays it all on the line and sacrifices his body,” Pond said. “He got banged up a little last week and fought through cramps tonight but continued to tough it out.
“Our offensive line did an incredible job blocking. Our skill guys get a lot of credit, but any time you have positive yards, you have to give credit to your line as well.”
Cascade’s first touchdown came in the second quarter with a 3-yard run from Wendel Singleton. The Champions added to their lead in the second half after recovering a Jaden Crouch fumble. That led to an 18-yard TD run from Logan McDonald to give Cascade a 14-0 lead.
The Indians responded on their ensuing drive by marching 75 yards on seven plays and scoring with a 10-yard run by Groves.
East Robertson then forced a three-and-out on defense, leading to Groves’ punt return to tie the game at 14.
Late in the fourth quarter, Groves intercepted a pass from Cascade quarterback Ethan Calvert. Four plays later, Drake Alsup scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard QB sneak.
“We challenged the guys at halftime, and I told them to just leave it all on the field,” Pond said. “Our coaches did a good job making adjustments on offense. The kids just never quit.
“When I first started here six years ago, something like that wouldn’t have happened. It’s character to them and to all of the coaches. As long as you never quit and give everything you’ve got, you give yourself an opportunity to win.”
Groves finished the game with 162 total yards on offense, including 65 rushing yards on nine carries and 73 receiving yards on four catches. He also had a 24-yard pass completion.
Indians QB Drake Alsup finished 8-of-16 passing for 118 yards. Jaden Crouch added 40 rushing yards.
East Robertson (1-2) will look to carry its momentum into Friday’s game at Lewis County (2-0). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Hohenwald.