The Grundy County Yellow Jackets dropped their second consecutive football game last Friday night as they lost to the York Institute Dragons 49 – 14. The loss was the first in Region 4- 3A play for the Yellow Jackets. Their regular season record now stands at 1 – 2 on the 2018 season.
The Jackets take to the road for their third straight away game tomorrow night (Friday), as they travel to Pikeville to play longtime Sequachee Valley rival Bledsoe County. The Warriors are 0 – 3 on the season losing to Oliver Springs, Whitwell, and Marion County during the first three weeks. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets got off to a fast start last Friday night as junior RB Evan Nunley dashed 40 yards on the first play from scrimmage to set the Jackets up at the Dragon 40-yard line. Three plays later, sophomore QB Jaden Ruehling hit senior wideout Ethan Chouinard on 3rd and 8 for 13 yards and a first down on the Dragon 25. However, the drive stalled at the Dragon 21 and the hosts took over on downs.
The Jacket defense started as fast as the offense, as Ruehling scooped up a York fumble by Dragon QB Landrick Leffew on the Dragons’ first play and scampered 15 yards to paydirt with 8:28 left in the first quarter. Senior placekicker Jaden Nance added the PAT and the Jackets led 7 – 0. It was the first points York had given up this year and the home crowd was stunned.
The experienced Dragons never lost their poise and proceeded to score touchdowns on five consecutive possessions. Two of the drives consisted of one play. The veteran Dragons seized control of the game and never looked back.
After Thomas Miller’s 72-yard touchdown jaunt gave the hosts a commanding 35 -7 lead, senior returner Ethan Nunley took the ensuing kickoff and zipped through the Dragon defenders and set sail down the left sideline in front of the Jacket bench to give the Jackets their second touchdown on the evening. Nance’s second PAT made the score 35 – 14 in favor of York.
York QB Leffew added two, one -yard plunges for touchdowns at the end of the half and on the first drive of the second half to end the scoring for the night and the final of 49 – 14.
The Jackets were able to move the pigskin on the tough Dragon defense, especially through the air. Ruehling was 18 of 32 with no interceptions for 140 yards. Sophomore Jordan
Hackworth snared seven aerials for 38 yards. Ethan Nunley caught six passes for 56 yards, while juniors Nathan Coffelt and Evan Nunley caught one pass each.
On the ground, freshman RB Gavin Tate had 58 yards on 11 carries. Evan Nunley had 42 yards on four carries, including the 40-yard dash on the first play of the game. Ruehling added 17 yards on four carries.
Defensively, the Jackets struggled to stop the strong, experienced Dragons. However, Ethan Nunley and Coffelt had five stops each. Ruehling added the fumble return for a touchdown to highlight the defensive effort.
Head Coach Tracy Hayworth was obviously disappointed in the loss, but he still likes the fight he sees in his young team. “We have to cut down on our mistakes such as missed tackles and penalties to have a chance to win as we move forward. We also have to work through injuries that are starting to hit the team,” the head coach noted.
The Jackets will play their third non-region foe on the season tomorrow night when they battle the Warriors of Bledsoe County. Coach Hayworth commented, “We can win this game if we maintain our focus and cut down on our mistakes.”
The Jackets and Warriors have met many times over the years as district foes as well as opponents in the old SVC. The Warriors won a hard fought game 13 – 0 in 2017 at GCHS. It should be a great match up of old rivals even if it isn’t a region game. Coach Hayworth and his Jacket football team needs your support. Make the trip to Pikeville and help Grundy County Yellow Jacket football even their record for the 2018 season!