T.A. Dugger shells Patriots of Unicoi

Photo by Dave Boyd
Jake Peters (6), Wes Anderson (22) and a couple of teammates protect the goal line for the Jr. Cyclones.

By Ivan Sanders
The evening was perfect for football at Brown-Childress Stadium, with a large contingent of Jr. Cyclone fans filling the stands and the T.A. Dugger Junior High marching band pumping up the crowd.
For a brief moment, the perfection of the night appeared in jeopardy as the Unicoi County Patriots scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the first quarter before the Jr. Cyclones pulled it together and handily defeated the visitors 44-24 on Tuesday evening.
"They caught us with our pants down and threw a scare at us early on," said Dugger coach John Oakley. "The guys learned the age-old lesson that you should never overlook anyone, especially in this conference because any team can beat anybody."
A one-yard touchdown run by Noah Weaver and a 26-yard touchdown toss from Patriot QB Drew Rice to Andrew Lingerfelt put Unicoi County in the driver's seat early. The Patriots short-lived cruise would soon be over as the Jr. Cyclones kicked the visitors over to the passenger seat for a wild ride.
After Wendall Loving made a super run to the UC 21-yard line from midfield, Jr. Cyclone QB Wes Anderson hit tight end Bo Carter, who did the rest in carrying the ball into the end zone for TAD's first score.
Jake Peters found Loving in the end zone for the two-point conversion to close the gap to 12-8 with 1:05 left in the opening quarter.
Peters was in the middle of the Jr. Cyclones' next scoring possession as he snagged an interception at the UC 8. Jordan Coleman took care of business from there, bulling his way the finally two yards for the score.
Anderson hit Loving for the two-point conversion to push the Jr. 'Clone edge to 16-12 with 3:16 left in the half.
The defense once again rose to the occasion, with big defensive tackle Jesse Potter ripping the ball out of Rice's hand and covering 31 yards for the touchdown. The point-after attempt went awry and TAD held a 22-12 advantage with 2:18 showing before intermission.
"I think that Jesse's strip and touchdown was the turning point for our team tonight," said Oakley. "It seemed to ignite a fire under us."
Coming out of the locker room holding onto the 10-point lead, the Jr. Cyclones wasted very few seconds before adding six more to its total.
Peters apparent return of the opening kickoff for a score was called back on a penalty for holding against TAD, placing the ball at the 'Clones 25-yard line. On first and ten from the 42, Anderson and Carter hooked up again on a pass that resulted in Carter taking the ball 58 yards for the score.
Coleman added the two points and suddenly TAD had breathing room with a 30-12 score showing on the scoreboard.
The defense was reminiscent of the Japanese kamikaze pilots as players like Loving, Evan Ellis, Thomas Roddy, Peters, Potter, Justin Fuqua and Coleman made hit after hit to discourage the Patriots' offensive unit.
Ellis recovered a Patriot fumble, as did Roddy, who scooped the ball up and ran the finally 32 yards for yet another TAD score. Coleman collected another two-point conversion to up the margin to 38-12 with 5:13 remaining in the game.
Rice and Lingerfelt connected on their next series for a 48-yard touchdown toss, a thing of beauty as Lingerfelt stretched out to tip the ball and then pull it in for the score. The extra point failed and the score stood at 38-18.
Carter racked up his third touchdown of the night on the ensuing kickoff. Taking the ball at the TAD 30-yard line, Carter weaved his way through the would-be Patriot tacklers for a 70-yard return.
The extra point attempt went for naught and the Jr. Cyclones now led 44-18.
Unicoi Co. wasn't ready to hang it up as Nathaniel Tipton plunged in from four yards out for the final score of the night with 1:35 left to play.
Fuqua took over at QB and wound the clock down by taking a knee on three consecutive plays for the 44-24 victory.
Said Oakley: "This was a total team effort tonight because Erwin came ready to play. The lines on both sides did a fantastic job for us while the backs did exactly what they were suppose to. I would like to mention the job that Ellis, Ryan Birchfield, David Martin, and Wyatt Penrod did because those guys get it going for us, but don't always get the fan fare the other guys get."
With the win, TAD goes 2-0 on the young season and gets a large break, as the Jr. Clones don't play again until Sept. 23 when they travel to John Sevier in Kingsport.
"This is our Florida game," quipped Oakley. "We have split five and five over the last 10 years."
Seventh Grade
Unicoi County 22
T.A. Dugger 6
The Jr. Cyclone seventh graders caught a bad bug called fumblitis during its game with the Patriots that led to UC taking the 16-point win.
Things got off to a good start for the Jr. Cyclones as TAD's Zach Montgomery took the opening kickoff to Unicoi's 44-yard line.
Using a six-play drive, the Jr. 'Clones went to the air as quarterback Jordan Meredith found Vic Deloach open for a four-yard scoring toss. The extra point attempt failed as Meredith was stopped short of the goal line.
From that point on, things turned sour for TAD as they had six fumbles for the game and lost four of those to the Patriots.
Unicoi County's quarterback Mason Howell found receiver Ryan Black wide open over the middle for a 58-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring for the Patriots. The duo hooked up again for the two-point conversion, and with 2:12 remaining in the half UC led 8-6.
Unicoi added its second score with 1:53 left in the third as QB Corey Headley tucked the ball for a 43-yard touchdown run. The extra point failed and the score stood at 14-6.
The Patriots closed out the scoring 53 seconds later as UC's lineman Brandon Boyd picked up a fumble and rumbled 34 yards for the score. Headley kept on the extra point for the conversion and the final margin of 22-6.
Julian Smith and Bruce Crumley led the Jr. Cyclones with two rushes each for 10 yards. Meredith was 4-11 passing for 18 yards and the touchdown.
Crumley, Jared Lyons and Zach Coggins had three tackles apiece to pace the defensive effort for TAD. Jerry Berkley contributed with two stops and an interception while Nolan Childers was responsible for causing a Patriot fumble.