Jr. Rangers zip past Hampton
"Who Let the Dogs Out" was the Baha Men's hit single in 2000. The Unaka Rangers wrote one of their own last night: "Who Tied the 'Dogs Up."
The Rangers of Unaka tied the Hampton Bulldogs up with a 28-16 decisive win at J.C. Campbell Stadium, and win next Tuesday against Cloudland will give them a berth to play in the Little Watauga Conference Championship against Johnson County.
"We played a good solid game tonight," said Unaka coach Matt Wilson. "Hampton has a good team, but they are so young. I just look for them to be real good next year."
Jeff Peters led the Rangers with 152 yards on the ground, chipping in three touchdowns on runs of 22, 25, and 43. Peters attempted 10 rushes and also added a 2-point conversion run to lead the Rangers. He also finished with six hard stops for Unaka.
With the first quarter coming to a close, Peters saw daylight on second-and-13 to race 22 yards and give the Rangers a cruising 6-0 lead. Dustin Carden's conversion run made the score 8-0.
Hampton's second possession of the game ended on a punt. The punt followed in the arms of Carden, who busted for a 65-yard punt return. Peters followed with the conversion run to increase the score 16-0.
Peters added his last two touchdowns late in the second quarter and the early third quarter for a commanding 28-0 Unaka advantage.
The 'Dogs would later bark back with a 10-yard touchdown run by Bret Price, along with an Adam Taylor conversion run, for a 28-8 Ranger favor.
James Lee accounted for Hampton's final touchdown, sprinting 50 yards off a Ranger fumble. The 2-point conversion was concluded on a Josh Guinn dive.
"We have improved so much since day 1," said Bulldog coach Kelly Oliver. "We were so awful for about a week, but we improved each week and we just went from there. We have a good roster coming back for next year. We have most of our starters back, because we are mainly consisted of sixth and seventh graders."
Said Wilson: "We have Cloudland Tuesday and if we want to play for the championship we must come to play against Cloudland. They beat us the first meeting, but we were without Dustin."
Luke Blackmon led the 'Dogs with 23 yards on the ground. Dustin Roberson and Logan Andrews each provided hard hits, while Taylor hauled in a pick for the 'Dogs.
For Unaka, Chris Pierce had 37 on the ground, Carden rushed for 31 yards, and Jessie Cowden grabbed one pass for 10 yards. Adam Colbaugh and Kelly Rapert each provided multiple stops for the Rangers, while Franky Covarrubias tallied an interception.
Hampton concluded its 2004 campaign, posting a 2-8 record. Unaka improved to 5-3, with Cloudland set for Tuesday's game at Stoney Creek.
Note: Peters reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. His total is 1,046.