The young Grant Union Prospector football team took on a tough challenge Friday night, losing 20-8 to the 2017 2A defending state champions, the Monroe Dragons.

Prospector head coach Jason Miller said his team has things to work on, but they played hard.

“You still have those mistakes a young team will show you, but I’m happy with their effort,” he said after the game. “I think we just played one of the top teams in the state to a tight game.”

Grant Union marched the ball about 20 yards to the 39 on their first drive, but dropped the snap on fourth down.

Monroe took advantage of the good field position for their first touchdown of the game made by quarterback Brody Ballard.

Grant Union had possession headed into the second quarter with quarterback Garrett Lenz and running back Justin Hodge each gaining first downs. Then Dragon linebacker Colton Sutton sacked Lenz to bring up fourth down.

On Monroe’s next drive, Dragon running back Zach Young slipped away for a big run, and during his next rush with the ball, Young fell and appeared to twist his knee. He was helped off the field, later assisted by the Blue Mountain Hospital ambulance crew.

Dragon running back Eric Teran followed up with a touchdown.

Grant Union’s Jordan Hall returned the Dragon’s kickoff to score, which brought on a loud shot from the local Whiskey Gulch Gang’s cannon. Lenz scored the two-point conversion with a keeper.

Lenz and Taylor Hunt had tackles for loss on the next drive, before Hall intercepted a pass to give the Prospectors the ball. The Prospectors were moving the ball, but Monroe intercepted just before halftime.

Grant Union and Monroe held each other off in the third, with neither team scoring.

Sutton scored for the Dragons once more in the fourth with Louden Ballard catching for extra points.

The Prospectors made a run for a touchdown, but couldn’t quite punch it in as the clock ran down, and Monroe again gained possession.

Lenz said, while they have a lot to work on, he’s happy with the team.

“I’m proud of our performance,” he said. “We’re full of heart, but I know that every single one of my guys will give 100 percent.”

Miller said he was pleased with individuals and the team as a whole.

“Justin Hodge, as a freshman he really stepped up, Russell Hodge played a hard game, Garrett is a good leader, Drew (Lusco) making big holes for us and the line is doing a great job,” the coach said. “Everybody — it was a great team effort. I’m really proud of them.”

Grant Union will face Gold Beach/Pacific at Summit High School in Bend at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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