Turnovers and penalties proved costly to the Grundy County Yellow Jackets last Friday night, at Whitwell, in a 20 – 14 loss. The loss was the seventh in a row on the season and leaves the Jackets with three more opportunities to win a football game. The Tigers earned their first victory of the season after losing their first six contests.
The Tigers drew first blood with QB Jacob Roberts scooting around left end and racing 25 yards to pay dirt. Whitwell’s Evan Nunley kicked the PAT for a 7 – 0 lead.
The Jackets managed to keep the game close in the first half despite committing seven penalties for 45 yards. An illegal formation and a block in the back were huge as senior running back Evan Nunley made impressive runs of 20 and 49 yards during the plays early in the second quarter. The 49-yard jaunt would have been a touchdown, but the penalty nullified the big play. The Grundy County coaching staff was upset with the call. They felt the block was a good block. It was a judgment call, however the proper call would have been a blindside block because the blocker failed to extend his hands on a defenseless player. This would have been 15 yards instead of the 10 yard penalty that was called. This is a rule put in a few years ago to insure the safety of players. A few years ago the argument of whether it was a block in the back would have been a valid one, however the blindside block is now a clear cut rule when the blocker fails to extend his arms and will be enforced.
Meanwhile the Jackets lost two fumbles during the second quarter. Both turnovers were tough ones as the Jacket ball carriers were fighting for extra yards when they were stripped by the opportunistic Tigers. The Jackets got a turnover of their own when Nunley intercepted Roberts with :11.7 left in the half.
Jacket junior QB hit senior wideout Jory Scissom on a 24-yard pass on the last play of the half, but it was a little too late to stop the clock and preserve any time. Nevertheless, it was a very impressive catch by Scissom who went high above the defender to snatch the aerial out of the air.
The Jacket defense turned back the Tigers on a third down stop near midfield. The Tigers opted to punt and Nunley’s 42-yard punt was fumbled by the Jacket returner and the Tigers recovered at the Jacket four yard line. Three plays later Jace Kilgore raced to the right pylon from the two yard line for the Tigers second TD. The Jackets blocked the PAT kick and the score was 13 – 0 with 8:12 left in the third.
The Jackets threatened twice on the next two possessions, but were unable to capitalize on a long pass play and a Tiger turnover. On the Jackets first possession of the second half Nunley took a forward pitch on a jet sweep around right end and raced for 63 yards to the Tiger 13- yard line. Three incomplete passes with a one yard loss on a run play left the Jackets with no points.
On the Tigers first play, the QB bobbled the snap and lost the handle and junior DE Zac Campbell pounced on the loose ball to put the Jackets in business at the Tiger nine yard line. An illegal substitute penalty on first down backed them up five yards this time two running plays netted three yards sandwiched around two incompletions and the Jackets were denied again.
The Tigers took advantage of a fatigued and subdued Jacket defense and roared 96 yards in six plays aided by a five yard face mask and a personal foul penalty to go up 20 – 0 with 1:49 left in the third. Cole Burns scampered in from 17 yards out and Nunley added the PAT kick.
The Jackets moved to the Tiger 25 before turning the ball over on downs. The Tigers got one first down and punted the ball back to the Jackets. Once again the Jackets turned the ball over on downs at their own 34-yard line. The Jackets yielded one first down again and got the ball back at their own 34-yard line after a 10-yard punt by the Tigers.
The Jackets went to the air and finally dented the scoreboard with 4:10 left in the contest with a Dixon to Scissom touchdown pass. The conversion run failed and the Jackets trailed 20 -6. After a failed onside kick attempt, the Jackets got the ball back with a mere :52 left at their own 33-yard line. On the first play Dixon went deep down the left sideline to the lanky Scissom who caught the ball in stride and sprinted untouched 67 yards for the score. Dixon hit junior receiver Trenton Ashley for the two point conversion and the Jackets were down 20 – 14 with :43.9 left.
An unsuccessful onside kick sealed the victory for the Tigers and extended the Jackets losing streak. It was the second straight heartbreaking loss for the Jackets in as many weeks.
Offensively, the Jackets were led on the ground by sophomore Gavin Tate who managed 51 yards on 10 carries. Most of the Jacket yardage was gained through the air as Dixon went 13 – 21 – 0 for 251 yards. Scissom had 125 yards on three catches and two touchdowns. Nunley hauled in five receptions for 92 yards.
Defensively, sophomore DT Dawson Misiolek led the way for the Jackets with nine tackles. Juniors Jordan Hackworth with eight stops and Holden Hargis with six stops weren’t far behind. Campbell recovered a fumble, while Nunley had an interception.
The Jackets end the season with three consecutive Region 4 – 3A games. Defending region champion, the Upperman Bees are up first. The Jackets travel to Baxter tomorrow night (Friday) for the 7 p.m. kickoff. The Bees were idle last week and are 6 – 1 on the season.
Jackets opponents last week
South Pittsburg defeated Meigs County 27 – 16. Host Whitwell tomorrow night. York Institute was idle. Travel to Sequatchie County tomorrow night. Bledsoe County lost to Monterey 26 – 7. Travel to Polk County tomorrow night. DeKalb County defeated Smith County 28 – 24. Host Macon County tomorrow night. Franklin County lost to Summitt 56 – 21. Host Lipscomb Academy tomorrow night. Cannon County defeated Cas-cade 30 – 7. Travel to Smith County tomorrow night. Whitwell defeated Grundy County 20 – 14. Travel to South Pittsburg tomorrow night. Upperman was idle. Host Grundy County tomorrow night. Sequatchie County was idle. Host York Institute tomorrow night. Smith County lost to DeKalb County 28 – 24. Host Cannon County tomorrow night.