The Grundy County Yellow Jackets played their best game of the season last Friday night, at Crisp Field, as they dropped a heartbreaker 14 – 12 to the Bledsoe County Warriors. The loss was the third in a row for the Jackets, and their season record is now 0 – 3. This was the third consecutive home game for the Jackets who now hit the road for the next two weeks.
The Jackets travel to Smithville tomorrow night (Friday) to battle the DeKalb County Tigers at 7 p.m. The Tigers are 1 – 3 on the season and play in Region 3 – 4A. They lost to Watertown last Friday night 42 – 20. The Tigers defeated the Jackets last year at GCHS 28 – 6.
Friday night saw the Jackets put together their best effort of the 2019 campaign. The Jackets used a balanced offense and basically three quarters of shutout defense to give themselves a chance against the 3 – 1 Warriors. However, turnovers and penalties proved to be costly in the end, as well as the inability to convert PAT’s.
The Warriors struck first after recovering a Koby Michael fumble at the Jacket 36 yard line on the second play of the game. Bledsoe County moved the ball 36 yards in nine plays capped by a Harmon Keith nine yard scoring strike to River Swafford. Triston Boring connected on the PAT kick and the Warriors led 7 – 0.
The Jackets marched right back down the field moving 47 yards in eight plays for the score. Senior running back Evan Nunley went in motion from left to right and took the handoff from Michael and turned it back up the middle and scored from nine yards out. The PAT kick was wide left. The drive was set up by a 31-yard kickoff return by junior Jordan Hackworth. The score was 7 – 6.
The Warriors wasted little time moving the ball 67 yards in five plays to stretch their lead to 14 – 6. Colby Rogers darted 40 yards to paydirt and Boring’s PAT provided the margin on the first play of the second quarter.
The following drive by the Jackets was filled with penalties including an ejection of Rogers for Bledsoe County, but the Jackets were unable to capitalize and had to punt. Following the punt the two teams traded interceptions on lengthy drives to end the first half. Sophomore corner Bryson Braden made a touchdown saving interception in the end zone to end the Warriors threat. It was a great play where Braden just muscled his way into position to wrestle the ball away from the Warriors receiver. Meanwhile, the Jackets then moved the length of the field and seemed to have scored a passing touchdown from the five, only to have the play nullified with a holding call. On the ensuing play, junior signal caller Jacob Dixon’s pass over the middle struck a Warrior DB in the helmet and popped straight up in the air and was picked off by another Warrior defender Cadillac Siever. The Warriors took a knee for one play and headed to intermission clinging to a 14 – 6 lead.
The third quarter was a defensive struggle. The Warriors punted twice, while the Jackets threw their second interception of the game. This time the interception was on third and 20 and was just as good as a punt, pinning the Warriors at their 11 yard line.
The fourth quarter began with the Jackets turning the ball over on a fourth down interception at the Warriors 21 yard line. The Warriors third possession of the second half ended like the first two with a punt. The Jackets moved the ball from the Warrior 46 to the Warrior 29 before turning the ball over on downs. Michael’s 28-yard run had the Jackets in good field position at the Warrior 18 but a penalty backed them up to the 29 yard line and they weren’t able to get the first down.
Two plays later the Warriors fumbled and the Jacket’s Ethan Brady recovered and the Jackets were in business at the Bledsoe County 20 yard line. After a five yard run by Michael and a false start on the Jackets, Michael scooted around right end and streaked down the sidelines to the end zone and got the Jackets within two points at 14 – 12 with 5:45 remaining. Sophomore Gavin Tate, playing in his first game of the season, was stopped short on the two point conversion run and the score remained 14 – 12.
The Warriors managed to get two first downs and milked the clock down enough to pin the Jackets back at their own seven yard line with their fourth punt of the game. Michael hit Hackworth, who pitched the ball to Nunley for 14 yards. Michael then ran the ball for 18 and 16 yards and tried to get out of bounds, but the game had ended.
The Jackets put together a solid game against a very good opponent. Offensively, they were balanced with 190 yards rushing and 116 yards through the air. On the ground, the Jackets were led by Michael with 82 yards in seven rushes. Nunley had 57 yards on 10 attempts and Tate had 26 yards on nine carries. Dixon had three totes for 25 yards, picking up key first downs with each carry. Through the air, Dixon was 6 – 12 – 3 for 87 yards, while Michael was 3 – 6 – 0 for 29 yards. Dixon’s picks weren’t your typical turnovers. Two of those were as good as punts on third and long and fourth down, while the first pick was tipped following a penalty that wiped away a touchdown pass by Dixon. On the receiving end, Nunley and Hackworth each snared four aerials. Nunley had 59 receiving yards, while Hackworth had 46 yards. Junior Trenton Ashley caught one pass for 11 yards.
Defensively, this was by far the Jackets best performance. After giving up a score in the first 10 seconds of the second quarter, the Jackets played solid defense, forcing four punts and two turnovers. One turnover denied the Warriors a score, while the other one set up the Jackets with their second touchdown.
The Jackets need their fans to make the trip tomorrow night to Smithville to try and keep their momentum going. It’s the first road test of the year for the Jackets. So, Jacket faithful, get behind these hard working young men and bring a win back to the mountain!
Jackets opponents last week
South Pittsburg defeated Marion County 63 – 7. Host Huntland tomorrow night. York Institute lost to Knox Grace 28 – 7. Host Smith County tomorrow night. Bledsoe County defeated Grundy County 14 – 12. Open date this week. DeKalb County lost to Watertown 42 – 20. Host Grundy County tomorrow night. Franklin County lost to Tullahoma 47 – 14. Open date this week. Cannon County defeated Community 53 – 14. Host Upperman tomorrow night. Whitwell lost to Signal Mountain 42 – 7. Host Copper Basin tomorrow night. Upperman lost to Livingston Academy 10 – 7. Travel to Cannon County tomorrow night. Sequatchie County defeated Hixson 20 – 14. Host East Ridge tomorrow night. Smith County had an open date. Travel to York Institute tomorrow night.