First victory eludes grasp of Rangers

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT


   COSBY -- It was a disappointing loss for the Unaka Rangers on Friday night, as they fell just short of their first victory on the season to the Cosby Eagles in a 32-26 final.
   "I just hate it for the kids, when you're 0-5, and you've got a chance to win one and it slips away," said Unaka coach Mickey Taylor.
   Cosby came out fired up early in the contest, as their second play from scrimmage went 60 yards for the touchdown on a run by Lacy Gates.
   Unaka trying to strike back, but their woes continue to haunt them through out the season, with Baggett not being able to control the snap which the Eagles recovered.
   Gates would take it in once again, this time from 29 yards out, to capture his second touchdown on the night.
   Josh Stuart added the two-point conversion to put Cosby up by the score of 14-0 with 8:58 left in the first quarter.
   Unaka then came back to put together a nine-play 60-yard drive to acquire their first points of the night.
   With both Brandon Irick and Joey Parlier busting through the defensive line for solid gains, Jamin Baggett capped off the drive with a four-yard run for the score.
   The Rangers responded once again in the second quarter, after an interception by Jeremy Cook gave them great field position at the Eagles 45 yard line.
   This drive resulted just like the one prior, with Baggett taking it in from four yards out right up the gut.
   Cosby was not about to be denied though, as they found success on a 25-yard touchdown pass play from Josh Ford to Jerry Bieniek.
   The Rangers then moved the ball from their own 17-yard line down to the Eagles 31. Facing a fourth and six, Baggett threw a pass to Cook, who was ruled out of bounds turning the ball back over to Cosby.
   Ford was able to connect on a throw with Bieniek once again this one going for 55 yards, but he was caught from behind by Cook to save the touchdown.
   But this did not stop the Eagles as they scored two plays later on a three-yard run by Stuart to put Cosby up by 26-12 at half-time.
   "We dug ourselves a hole in the first half, but this time they showed they can do this, and we came back, and if we'd had another minute, I think we could have won it," said Mickey Taylor.
   Neither team was able to manage any points in the third quarter, although both teams moved the ball rather easily.
   The last quarter would be a thriller, as the Rangers stepped up to the challenge and mounted a comeback.
   With Unaka driving and eating up yards, a scary moment came when senior leader Baggett went down with a vicious hit.
   He was knocked unconscious, and remained down until the paramedics arrived to take him off the field, which caused nearly a 30 minute delay.
   The Rangers resumed where they had left off, by pounding it straight at the Eagles line.
   After a big catch was made by Cook on fourth and eight, Tory Morton took the ball and crossed the goal line on a seven-yard run to pull Unaka within eight.
   The Ranger defense held on Cosby's next possession, forcing them to go three and out, and giving the ball back to Unaka on their own 40 yard line.
   Ten plays later, Irick surged his way in from five-yards out, and added the two-point conversion on a run to tie the contest with 2:05 to go in the game.
   With time running out and looking like possible overtime, Ford hit Stuart with a pass toward the left side line, which he took 69 yards to score with just a little over a minute left.
   The Rangers were not about to quit, as they got a big kick-off return from Cook, and an 18 run to get them down inside the twenty.
   Time was becoming a factor by now, which forced Unaka into the passing mode with 14.3 seconds left on the clock.
   Irick made one last attempt, as he threw the ball toward the end-zone, but was intercepted by Andy Clark to end the game.
   "The kids didn't play the best in the second half, but they never did quit," said Cosby coach Randy Sturgill.