JV Rangers shackle Bulldogs, 20-14

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

     The Unaka Jr. Varsity football team battle back from behind to score the go ahead touchdown in the final quarter of play, as they defeated Hampton in a 20-14 thriller.
     "The kids played real hard tonight, and they played good on defense," said Unaka JV coach Andy Naylor.
     Hampton came into the game suffering from some key injuries, where they were missing a couple of fullbacks and linemen.
     "One of our linebackers got hurt and he plays fullback too so we didn't have nobody else after he went out, and one of lineman that plays tackle and goes both ways got hurt," said Hampton JV coach Scotty Button.
     Button says, both the varsity and JV are suffering right now from injuries, and he's unsure whether or not they will have enough player in next week's match-up with Unicoi Co.
     Despite the Bulldogs being banged up, they gave a good effort in almost coming away with the victory, but the Rangers were ready for the win and they dueled the whole game to capture it.
     The Rangers trailed for the most part of the contest, as the Bulldogs struck first with the opening period coming to a close.
     A pass from near mid-field by Zak Crabtree was caught by Cody Farmer to give the Bulldogs the early advantage.
     Hampton added the two-point conversion when Crabtree made a toss to Jacob Culler, putting the 'Dogs up 8-0.
     Unaka came back to score, after a 20 yard run up the middle by Tory Morton pulled the Rangers within two points at half-time.
     "Our line blocked real well tonight, for they picked up the stunts and executed, and the main thing was we didn't put the ball on the ground," said Naylor.
     Hampton came out in the third quarter to stretch the lead back to eight when Jacob Moss broke-off a 40 yard scamper.
     "We were trying to run with one back, and we're not used to running out of that formation, so I'm glad we kept it as close as we did," said Button.
     Rangers freshman, Charles Guinn exploited his speed, after taking a pitch on the sweep and cutting it back against the grain to go in from 30 yards away, closing the deficit back to two.
     "Both our line-backers are out, and we were trying to make do with what we had, but we just didn't have enough out there for them," said Button.
     In the final quarter of play, Unaka marched the ball down the field with Morton capping-off the drive on a five yard run for the score with four minutes left.
     The Rangers added the two-point conversion, forcing the Bulldogs to make a touchdown for the tie.
     "We played poorly tonight for we have a lot of people hurt, and we were trying to play a lot of people out of position," said Button.
     Facing a fourth down and seven from their own 40 yard-line, Crabtree took the snap and rolled out to the left-side attempting to turn up field to keep the drive alive.
     Crabtree was denied after Cody Hurley chased him down to make an ankle saving tackle, which caused the 'Dogs to come up five yards short of the first down.
     With 2:21 left in the game, Morton carried the ball for a 15 yard gain to put the game out of reach with the clock running out.
     "They blew us off the line big time, and of course when you don't have your linebackers they are going to do that," said Button.
     Morton finished the night with 120 yards on the ground along with scoring two touchdowns.
     "Our backs did real well for Tory Morton had a big game for us, and Charles Guinn made a nice cut to score," said Naylor.