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The opening game of the season provided as much excitement as everyone could stand Friday night as the Yellow Jackets lost a shootout of a game to Marion’s Warriors by a 55-35 score. It wasn’t the results the locals wanted but they did show the offense will be versatile and explosive this season.
“We knew it was going to be a slugfest and a good game. They’re a very good football team. Zeman played but he wasn’t the one that beat us. Losing contain on the quarterback did. They didn’t really have any big long drives they just busted some big plays on us. We know offensively we can score with anybody even if we get down 14 like we did. It’s a long season and it hurts to open up with a loss against Marion but we can still win the rest of them,” said Coach Nick Bryant.
Bryant’s father, legendary Jacket running back Jerry Bryant, was made the first ever inductee into the Grundy County Sports Hall of Fame Friday night at halftime. The former great has been battling cancer for the last year but proudly walked from the field house to the 50 yard line and was flanked by his wife, children and grandchildren as GCHS Principal Amanda Lance presented him with a plaque marking his induction.
The Jackets started slow Friday but rebounded quickly. Marion went up 14-0 at the 7:00 minute mark after stopping Grundy on their first two drives with a five yard run and a 48 yard pass. By the end of the quarter the Jackets had clawed their way to a tie on a seven yard run by Michael Nolan at 4:08 and a 48 yard pass from Houston Mainord to Logan Meeks at the first quarter buzzer. Mainord passed to Dylan Cleek for two points to send the teams to the second quarter at 14-14.
The Warriors went back into the lead at 10:55 of the second quarter on a 63 yard run but the kick failed. Grundy took their first lead at 21-20 with 8:13 to go in the half when Dylan Cleek rushed in from seven yards out. Kevin Stewart added the PAT for the lead.
Marion again took a lead with 4:57 to go in the quarter on a 13 yard run. They ran it in for two and were on top 28-21. Jesse Goodman broke loose from 20 yards out for Grundy to cut the lead to one at the 3:59 mark. The kick failed.
The Warriors drove one more time before half and got within field goal range. However they tried the fake and threw to the end zone only to see Grundy’s Dylan Cleek make a huge leap and break up a sure touchdown pass.
Things slowed down in the third quarter with both teams only posting one score. Marion went up 35-28 on a three yard run at 5:43 and a PAT.
Unfortunately Grundy’s only second half score came with just 42 seconds left in the third when Michael Nolan pounded 24 yards in to paydirt. Trevor Hampton threw to Dylan Cleek for the two-point conversion and tied the game at 35-35.
The final quarter saw Marion take control on both sides of the ball. They scored on runs of 33 and 13 with a 50 yard interception return for score thrown in the middle. They added another interception and defense was finally able to stop Grundy the rest of the way making the final 55-35.
Bryant was more than let down with the loss but also proud of the offensive effort.
“We’re heartbroken and disappointed. To be able to play such a good game offensively and not be able to hold containment with five different players, the two best on the team that I moved there, it’s very heartbreaking that our defense gives up that many points and puts us in a bind,” said the coach.
Obviously defense will be the major focus in practice this week.
Offensively Michael Nolan led Grundy in rushing with 18 carries for 117 yards and two scores. Jesse Goodman followed with six for 88 and a scored. Dylan Cleek carried twice for 12 and Logan Meeks had one for eight. Houston Mainord threw all over the field to multiple targets for 289 yards in the air, hitting 19 of 33 attempts.
Logan Meeks led in receiving with nine for 159 yards and a score. Trevor Hampton had six for 63. Dylan Cleek caught two for 26. Michael Nolan had two for 22. Jesse Goodman and Christian Brown caught one each for 12 and seven yards respectively.
Michael Nolan led on defense with eight solo tackles, two assists and one for a loss. Terrince Bramhall was close behind with seven solos and one each on assists and for a loss. Tyler Land notched six stops. Dylan Cleek, Joe James and Eldon Posey had five each. Trent Hampton, Logan Meeks and Jesse Goodman notched four each while Steven Baskin recovered a fumble.
The Jackets travel to Grace Baptist Academy in Chattanooga Friday for another non-district contest. The Golden Eagles are 0-1 after a 20-13 loss to Chattanooga Christian last week. Grundy can’t afford to overlook Grace as the Eagles upset the Jackets 34-22 last year.
The explosive Yellow Jacket offense have proven themselves more than ready for the challenge this year with over 500 yards Friday. This week the defense will need to step up in order for the right side of the score board to be heavy and Grundy to get the win. A great crowd was there Friday to back the team against Marion. That same crowd needs to make the trip to Chattanooga and help the team get into the win column. The team needs you Yellow Jacket fans so GET OUT TO THE GAME!