TYLER -- Somewhere along the way, Tyler Grace Community discovered running back Zach Tatman could nickel and dime Canton down the field.

Tatman carried the ball 22 times for 188 yards. But when it mattered most Thursday, the Cougars down seven midway through the fourth quarter, the Eagles defense held Tatman five yards from pay dirt on 4th-and-1 and walked off Mewbourne Field with a 49-28 win.

"On a short play like that, we were coming off the edge and hoping to make the ball bounce," Canton head coach Robert Ivey said. "We were able to slip one through there in the B-gap and came off the edge and we stopped him. He's a good running back. He is a very good running back. It was a big play for our kids to bow up like that."

Tyler Grace running back Zach Tatman finished his day with 188 rushing yards on 22 carries. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Canton quarterback Chandler Eiland took the ball from the 5-yard line on the next play for 31 yards. Two plays later, he iced the game with a 56-yard touchdown.

Eiland dazzled. The ULM commitment ran for 202 yards on 18 carries to supplement 182 yards through the air on a 9-of-21 night.

The Eagles (1-0) got off to a rough start. Eiland threw his lone interception on the first throw of the night. The ball was picked off by Grace linebacker Andrew Cotton at Canton's 25-yard line.

The Cougars (0-1) scored two plays later when quarterback Chandler Nutt connected with Jonny Spitzer for a 7-yard touchdown.

But Eiland capped off the ensuing 65-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown to Tre Fitzgerald.

The race was on.

"The interception was a bad choice," Eiland said. "I knew it as soon as I threw it. But I learned from that real quick. I think it actually helped me out. I felt like I played to my potential by the end."

Canton took a 27-21 lead to the locker room.

Grace deferred at the coin toss and got the ball to start the second half.

Tatman ran for 44 yards on nine carries and Nutt capped off a 14-play, 68-yard drive with a strike to sophomore receiver Parker Ary. A converted PAT from Christian Hooper gave Grace a 28-27 lead with 4:40 to play in the third quarter.

The Eagles went 78 yards on the next 10 plays for what would be the game-winning score. Eiland found the end zone on a 3-yard draw and then hit Dalton Fritcher for a 2-point conversion.

Grace and Canton traded three-and-outs before the Cougars began their defining drive from the Eagles' 49-yard line, a drive inches away from swinging the game another direction.

The Eagles added a late score when running back Jordan Jackson went the distance from 55 yards.

Canton quarterback Chandler Eiland breaks free from the first level of Tyler Grace's defense on the way to a 13-yard gain. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

"Hopefully we keep on progressing," Canton receiver and linebacker Brazos Hesskew said. "It's the beginning of the season and we've got a lot to work on. If we can use this as a momentum step, we'll have a great season."

The Eagles finished Thursday's game with 526 yards of offense. Nutt threw for 104 yards in a 9-of-20 performance and helped the Cougars out toward 337 total yards.

Eiland had a game-best six touchdowns, two passing and four running scores.

"He's a four-year starter," Ivey said. "You always want the ball in his hands. He's an awesome player and an awesome kid. Our guys up front did really good, too. He was able to stand in the pocket and not deal with a lot of pressure. We've still got a lot of work to do, but we had a good game."

Canton will visit Mabank on Sept. 5. Grace will seek a rebound game against New Diana the same night.

"Our defense really surprised me," Eiland said. "I was really surprised at how well they performed over the game. They scared me at first, but we settled in and laid the wood. Offensively, we did a good job. Not bad at all."

Canton 49, Tyler Grace Community 28

Mewbourne Field, Tyler

Canton —         14 13  8 14 — 49
Tyler Grace — 21  0   7 0 — 28

  • First Quarter
  • GRACE -- Jonny Spitzer 7 pass from Chandler Nutt (Christian Hooper kick) -- 10:58
  • CAN — Tre Fitzgerald 33 pass from Chandler Eiland (Dalton Fritcher kick) — 9:50
  • GRACE — Spitzer 8 pass from Nutt (Hooper kick) — 5:41
  • CAN -- Garrett Denbow 27 pass from Eiland (Fritcher kick) -- 2:47
  • GRACE-- Zach Tatman 47 run (Hooper kick) -- :03
  • Second Quarter
  • CAN — Eiland 43 run (Fritcher kick) — 9:48
  • CAN — Eiland 4 run (kick failed) — 5:13
  • Third Quarter
  • GRACE — Parker Ary 13 pass from Nutt (Hooper kick) — 4:40
  • CAN — Eiland 3 run (Fritcher pass from Eiland) — :32
  • Fourth Quarter
  • CAN — Eiland 56 run (Fritcher kick) — 5:04
  • CAN — Jordan Jackson 55 run (Fritcher kick) — 2:02

                                         GRACE                     CAN
First downs                         15                             19
Total yards                         331                          526
Rushes-Yards                  35-224                      37-334
Pass yards                         107                          182
Comp.-Att.-Int.                  9-21-0                    7-21-1
Penalties-Yards                  6-33                          4-20
Fumbles-Lost                     1-1                            1-0
Punts-Avg.                       5-35.8                       3-38.0

RUSHING — Grace: Zach Tatman 22-188, Chandler Nutt 11-36, Adam Graham 1-5, Jonny Spitzer 1- -5. Canton: Chandler Eiland 18-202, Jordan Jackson 13-127, LaDarius Coffey 6-15.
PASSING — Grace: Chandler Nutt 9-20-0 104, TEAM 0-1. Canton: Chandler Eiland 7-21-1 182
RECEIVING — Grace: Jonny Spitzer 3-53, Parker Ary 3-29, Zach Tatman 1-9, Mason Dacus 1-8, Christopher Wilhelmi 1-5. Canton: Brazos Hesskew 4-96, Garrett Denbow 3-41, Tre Fitzgerald 1-36, Logan Nace 1-9.

Canton receiver Garrett Denbow bobbles a pass against Tyler Grace's defensive back Adam Graham's (11) coverage, but he came down with the ball for a 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)