Thunder overcome Abingdon

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com
The Abingdon Hornets left Roan Mountain a little Thunderstruck Saturday night.
After a tight contest early, the Carter County Thunder rolled to three touchdowns in the second quarter to help build some room with a solid defense to take a 27-18 victory on Orr Field, their first of the season.
"We got a big monkey off our shoulder," said Thunder coach Bo Wilcox. "This is the way this team is supposed to play all the time. We had a lot of guys go both ways and we are a threat on the offensive and defensive side of the ball."
Eric Cooper was hot through the air, going 8 of 17 for 113 yards. He got help behind over 200 yards of total rushing from a talented running core and a rock solid offensive line.
"It was a good win," Cooper said after the game. "Last week in practice, we shaped up our offensive line and it was a big all-around effort from the whole team."
It was completely defense early in the contest as players from both squads picked up interceptions on first drives.
The Thunder used defense from Kevin Carroll, John Kelly, Brandon Odom and John Robbins to rattle Abingdon early, forcing a punt. Joey Fraction took it 90 yards to paydirt, but it was called back.
A fumble set up some nice runs from Jimmy Neely and Tim Clipse, putting the Thunder inside the 15 at the end of the first.
It gave Travis Brown a chance for a 27-yard field goal, but the former Happy Valley star barely missed it.
A Thunder mishap gave Abingdon the first score of the game when Fraction fumbled a punt return inside the five, allowing Sid Harden to scamper seven yards for the score.
Mike Minervini stepped up for the Thunder later on defense with a big interception.
Reverse runs from Justin Bowling and Ice Myers allowed Tim Clipse to pound in a four-yard touchdown at his former high school stomping ground. A Brown PAT put Carter County up 7-6.
Kelley, Odom and Dewayne Humphrey held Abingdon four more downs, before Myers made a big 34-yard grab from Eric Cooper. Cooper called his own number with a two-yard score, taking a 14-6 lead.
On the next Abingdon possession, Odom nailed Harden, forcing another fumble. A Bowling run and Minervini catch set up a Brown field goal attempt.
The snap was fumbled, but Carroll grabbed it and plowed it into the end zone to take a 20-6 lead at the end of the half.
Abingdon picked up another score in the third quarter when back-up quarterback Kelvin Campbell touched Zach Greene with a 20-yard score, the missed conversion kept Carter County on top.
Odom and Robbins picked up additional sacks to set up another Brown field goal attempt. Brown hit a 31-yarder, but a penalty forced a re-kick which Brown missed.
The Thunder finally got in the end zone again in the fourth quarter when Cooper hit a streaking Myers with a 30-yard score. Brown's kick gave Carter County a 27-12 lead.
But Abingdon wouldn't quit as Martin Lucas returned the ensuing kick 86 yards, forcing Brown to make the touchdown saving tackle. But the Hornets struck when Andy Hounshell touched Campbell with a 15-yard touchdown to close the gap at 27-18.
There were 197 total penalty yards in the contest.
"The penalties were big tonight," Wilcox said. "But overall, this is the way I expect to see this team play every week. Abingdon didn't quit. They have a good team and they are very strong. But these kids put it on the line tonight."
Wilcox believes the team will shape up the rest of their season.
"We plan on running the table," he said. "I couldn't be more proud of this bunch."
Myers led the team with 72 yards on three receptions, while Neely had 55 yards on the ground for Carter County. Tim Clipse had 26, Bowling 33 and Myers 30 rushing.