'Dogs slip past Unicoi County, 6-0


Photo by Kristen Luther Hampton quarterback Brandon Barnett steps away from the Unicoi pass rush.

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com
After a hard-fought game last Friday night, the same was said with both JV clubs, as Hampton knocked off Unicoi County in a 6-0 final on Monday.
The game came down to which team was capable of making a sustainable drive, and the Bulldogs were able to pull it off during the second half.
"Usually when we play them it's a pretty good game, for they beat us last year three to nothing down there in overtime with a field goal," said Hampton JV coach Scotty Bunten.
Neither team managed to do a whole lot on offense, as a 20-yard run down the sideline from Hampton's Cody Farmer in the first quarter highlighted the first half.
Hampton had a couple of chances with great field position, but they never came up with the play to punch it in.
With the first half winding down, a near-touchdown pass from Brandon Barnett to Adam Townsend was denied, when Reuben Hyder stepped in to knock it down.
The Blue Devils had no success in moving the ball on the ground, as their backs were thrown for a loss on several occasions.
"They like to play defense and you just about have to make them play offense, except for the backs, of course," said Bunten.
Since the ground game was ineffective, Unicoi Co. decided to go to the air, but not much was happening there with an interception coming from Gene Sanchez to end the half.
Hampton seemed to have the edge all night long with field position, and a fumbled snap from quarterback Ryan Scott gave the Bulldogs a good start from the Blue Devil 39 yard-line.
The 'Dogs put the weight on the shoulders of their big bruising fullback Jonathan Potter, who led Hampton with the only score of the contest.
On the first play from scrimmage, Potter broke a 30-yard run up the middle by breaking tackles and dragging defenders down to the nine-yard line.
Potter bulled his way into the endzone, after two straight carries from Potter scoring on a two-yard touchdown.
"I should have probably let him run it a little bit more, but I wanted to get some of my younger kids in there," said Bunten. "He's our punter on varsity, so I didn't want to get him hurt, for we're already down anyway."
The 'Dogs were unable to convert the two-point pass attempt, as Hampton led 6-0 with 6:37 left in the third quarter.
Another great chance of capitalizing off of great field position was denied when a block in the back call kept Hampton from making a first down inside the Blue Devils 30-yard line.
"We were able to do a few things, and then they started rushing everyone they had, but you can't do much with that on JV's a lot of times," said Bunten. "You're not use to throwing it that much, so we did just enough to get by with."
A sack from the Blue Devils on fourth down gave them the ball back, and a nice diving catch over the middle by Adam Boggart moved the ball down to the 33 yard-line of Hampton.
The 'Dogs answered the challenge on defense, when a third-and-five play resulted in Lucas Roark making a hit on Andy Ollis for a two-yard loss.
Next play, quarterback Justin Bennett fumbled the snap with Ian Miller making the recovery to stop the Blue Devils' drive.
"We had a little trouble with our center position, for two guys are out, with one of them being sick and the other one quitting," said Unicoi Co. JV assistant coach Todd Wilcox. "Fumbles and not being able to block is what killed us, but that's the difference in having a freshman instead of a sophomore or junior."
Hampton did a good job all night on special teams, as they had two consecutive kicks that pinned Unicoi Co. inside the twenty-yard line.
"Special teams did real well with the exception of one snap, but with Jonathan being a back, because he was able to make something happen to get us a first down," said Bunten.
After starting from their own twenty, the Blue Devils turned the ball over, when a 27-yard pass from Bennett to Hyder ended in a fumble with Farmer recovering.
A nice hit from Potter jarred the ball loose to allow Farmer to pounce on it at mid-field.
The Hampton defense made the big plays all throughout the fourth quarter, as Martin Winters picked off a pass from Bennett, returning it to the 26-yard line.
"They knew we were going to throw it, for we were behind, and you've got to give them credit, for their coverage was better than what we expected," said Wilcox.
All three Unicoi Co. possessions resulted in turnovers during the fourth period, with the last play of the game being picked off by Farmer, who came close in returning it for a touchdown.
"Hampton is a physical team, and we didn't step up to their physical ability," said Wilcox. "Our line didn't do too well tonight, and if you want to establish the ground game then you have to be able to block."