Grapevine quarterback Cade Rhodes made his first varsity start a memorable one.
With two-time district MVP Alan Bowman now at Texas Tech, the signal-caller reins were passed to the senior Rhodes. And Rhodes made the most of his first opportunity, passing for 270 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-14 Mustangs victory against Azle on Thursday night at Dragon Stadium.
Grapevine (1-0) scored on three straight possessions in the first half, including a 10-yard pass from Rhodes to Seth Texada, to build a 17-0 lead. Rhodes added scoring strikes of 13, 27 and 14 yards in the second half to put the game out of reach.
“I felt like we got a lot better throughout the game, and I’m glad for the way we finished the night,” Rhodes said.
Azle (0-1) scored its lone touchdown late in the second quarter on a 4-yard pass from wide receiver Jacob Lee to quarterback Drey Owen.
The Mustangs played their home game in Southlake because their usual home venue, Mustang-Panther Stadium, is undergoing renovations.
Game was over when: Jake Ertz hauled in a 13-yard pass from Rhodes in the corner of the end zone for a 24-7 Grapevine lead in the final minute of the third quarter.
Play of the game: Azle only scored twice, but, boy, was its first score memorable. Facing third-and-goal from the 4, the Hornets went with a Philadelphia Eagles-style trick play. The play began with a toss to a back who pitched to Jacob Lee, a wide receiver. He lobbed a pass to a wide-open Owen, the quarterback, for the score.
Offensive player of the game: Rhodes, making his first start, shook off some early jitters to throw four touchdown passes, two of those to speedy receiver David Clayton.
Defensive player of the game: Grapevine linebacker Jackson Shadle earned the nod with his fumble recovery and 11-yard rumble to the Azle 4. His big play in the waning seconds of the first quarter set up a field goal that extended the lead to 17-0.
Unsung hero of the game: The Grapevine defense. Until surrendering a touchdown on the final play of the game, the Mustangs D had looked overpowering in the second half. They forced seven Azle punts and won the turnover battle 2-1.
Moment of the game: Could be a period of time when a team really took over, or really lost it for themselves; a big penalty that set up a winning play, etc.
Stat of the Game: 368 yards and 22 first downs for the Mustangs offense.
They said it: “Cade’s going to keep getting better. He’s a senior, but, heck, this is his first rodeo.” – Grapevine coach Mike Alexander.
Big picture outlook: Grapevine’s offense has plenty of firepower with Rhodes and receivers Ertz and Clayton. Azle showed flashes of explosiveness, especially in its ground game. Owen and running back Billy Copeland combined for 153 yards rushing.
What’s next? Azle hosts Wichita Falls Rider, 7 p.m. on Sept. 7. Grapevine hosts Abilene Cooper at Apogee Stadium in Denton, 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 7.