Rangers coast past Grace

By Marvin Birchfield
star staff

  Five down and five to go!
  The Unaka Rangers reached the midway point of year on Friday night, and with another victory to ponder upon, the reality of a perfect season seems more and more likely.
  Unaka moved to 5-0 with a 49-30 win over Grace Christian Academy at Goddard Field.
  "We came out and took the game away early just like the King's Academy game, and did some good things," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor. "We wanted to work more on our passing game, and kind of knew what we wanted to do if the game got out of hand, and take several series with just throwing the football and we did that."
  The Rangers were out of the gate quick with a 50-yard run from Charles Guinn on their third play from scrimmage on the first possession.
  After a fumble by Grace Christian, the Rangers got great field position with George Shoun making a recovery at the Rams 13-yard-line.
  Two plays later, Cody Hurley took the ball in from four yards out to give Unaka a 14-0 lead with 9:33 left in the first period.
  The Ranger momentum continued to spread with a 28-yard scoring run from Brandon Medina. The freshman Medina took the inside hand-off and received a hammering block from guard Travis Pasquale, springing him to the outside open field.
  "I was just trying to get outside the block and almost got tackled, and I don't know who did it but the guy got put flat on his back," said Medina. "I know we haven't done it in a long time, but I'm just waiting too see if we can win the championship or something."
  Unaka continued to put up points in the first period, after a 25-yard pass from John Zimmerman to Joey Sheets set up a 10-yard touchdown rush by Hurley.
  Grace Christian managed to get on the board with 17.9 seconds left in the first, when Zachary Bearden found Nicholas Zockoll in the end zone on a 12-yard pass.
  It was Daniel McInturff's time to make some plays to start the second period. An 18-yard catch around midfield led to a 21-yard touchdown reception as McInturff dragged three Rams players on his way to the end zone.
  Grace Christian captured another touchdown right before the half to keep the game within three TDs.
  A 42 yard run from Bill Puckett made it a 35-13 contest at halftime, but the Rams were unsuccessful in coming out and keeping the momentum going as they punted on their first possession.
  "This has been the story of our season all year -- we get down by 20 or 21 points in the first half, and then we come out and play better in the second half," said Grace Christian coach Scott Estep. "We turned it around in the second period, and we had a lot of positive things, but like last year the big plays were the difference."
  After both clubs traded possession by throwing interceptions, Guinn stepped in again and scored his second touchdown of the night. This time it was a 60-yard run, as he led the Rangers on the ground with four carries for 117 yards.
  The Rams kicked a 26-yard field goal with 1:01 left in the third period, and a one-yard quarterback sneak from Bearden with five minutes into the fourth cut the Ranger advantage to 19 points.
  Unaka decided in going to the air after the touchdown, but after an overthrow to a wide open Sheets and a one-hand drop from McInturff, it appeared that the Rangers might not find what they were looking for.
  Third time was a charm though, as Zimmerman hit Kevin Covarrubias for a 63-yard strike, which was the first touchdown on the year for the senior wide receiver.
  "It was a big play and a big catch, so I'm glad to be able in getting my first touchdown for Unaka," said Covarrubias. "We're still working hard. We've got a long season ahead of us. We want to go 10-0 on the season."
  Zimmerman finished the night with six completions on 10 attempts for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
  The Rams added another touchdown in the final minute with an eight-yard run from Stephen Mathes.
  "We got some young kids in on the passing game, and every kid on the team got to play, and they left pretty happy also," Ensor said. "Our young kids played almost exclusively from the second quarter on, and they scored a lot of touchdowns, but it was on our JV team, so that's why."