Patriots Sneak by Smoky Bears in Season Opener, 6 – 3

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Friday night lights were burning once again at Leroy Shannon Field. The Jefferson County Patriots welcomed a packed house to open the 2017 season against the Sevier County Smoky Bears. The county line rivalry proved itself to be just as strong as ever, and the Patriots were ready for a Bear hunt.

The Patriots were slow to get started for the first 15 minutes of play. The opening drive of the play was one of the few times Sevier County showed any fight offensively against the Patriots. In the opening kickoff, the Bears returned for 29 yards, setting up Sevier County to be the first on the board. With 5:39 left in the first quarter, after being unable to perform in the red zone, the Smoky Bears scored with a field goal.

The defensive battle would continue for the remainder of the half, with both teams dangerously close to scoring, but being unsuccessful in their efforts to seal the deal.

The second quarter began an awakening for the Jefferson County offense. A breakout run from Clay Wood put some wind in the sails of the Patriots, and in the fans, but the inexperienced offensive line could not hit paydirt just yet. Sevier County got the ball back in the final seconds of the half, but decided to take a knee to close out the second quarter.

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

The second half of play lit a fire in the Jefferson County Patriots. Well-rested from the halftime break, it didn’t take long for JCHS to wear the Smoky Bears down. The Patriots hit the endzone with 4:38 left in the third, as Woods fought his way in from three yards out. A botched extra point attempt had the Patriots up, but only by three.

The Patriots made it in to the endzone once again late in the fourth, but that score would be called back due to a flag on the play, accompanied by a 15 yard penalty. As Jefferson County tried to fake a punt, the ball was brought down by a host of Smoky Bears. In the final minutes of the game, Sevier County regained possession of the ball deep in their own territory.

The drive continued as the Smoky Bears squeaked a couple of first downs past the tough Patriot defense. Ending the game on a nailbiter of a note, a long breakout run by the Smoky Bears stopped at the two yard line, thanks to Blaine Taylor and Gabe Tabor. The Patriots grabbed the win from the Smoky Bears 6-3.

Caleb Woods definitely made himself known, as he ran the ball for over 130 yards during the face-off.

The Patriot defense showed just how much of a force they were, with a couple of interceptions and by batting down Sevier County’s passing game.

Next up for the Patriots will be a tough challenge, as they host a rare Thursday night game against the Morristown East Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are reeling after a 42-20 loss against their in-town rivals, Morristown West. The last time the two faced off during regular season play was October 30, 2014. The Hurricanes gained the win for that matchup, 28-14, ensuring this will be an entertaining game to watch. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. in Dumplin Valley, and will be televised on MyVLT.

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Source: Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Sports

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