Patriots Maul Smoky Bears

Friday night lights have returned to Jefferson County.

Photo by Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Staff

The Jefferson County Patriots opened regular season play in Dumplin Valley Friday night on a newly renovated Leroy Shannon Field. After a dedication ceremony welcoming everyone to the new sports complex, the Patriots broke in the new turf in a big way.

The first quarter started off shaky for Jefferson County, who won the toss and chose to defer to the second half. The Patriot defense stopped the Sevier County Smoky Bears from gaining much ground during their first possession, and forced them to give up the ball on their first drive. Jefferson County, though, on their first drive of the ball after kickoff, threw an interception to Smoky Bear Caleb Mackenzie. That interception would lead to Sevier County becoming the first to get on the board with a drive that would end in a successful field goal attempt.

Photo by Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Staff

It wouldn’t take long for the Jefferson County Patriots to rebound, though. Just over two minutes in to the next drive, the Patriots Issac Sawyer would introduce himself to the endzone for the first time this season. A missed extra point pulled Jefferson County ahead 6-3. Due to another successful drive by the Bears to end the first quarter, the Patriots went in to the second down 10-6.

The second quarter proved itself to be just as competitive as the first. The Bears and the Patriots continued to go head to head it what looked like was going to be an exciting down to the wire game. Jefferson County scored early, missing a two point conversion attempt, making the score a close 12-10. The Bears answered that score with what was going to be the last time they would score for the remainder of the game, with an 80 yard return after kickoff. Sevier County pulled ahead once again 16-10, missing the two point conversion.

Photo by Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Staff

This is the point where the Sevier County Smoky Bears fell apart, and the Jefferson County Patriots took full advantage. A failed onside kick was to be recovered by the Patriots, starting the next scoring drive on their own 45. Tanner Atkins would scramble for a 25 yard gain, setting up the next play where he would hand off to Gage Bolin. A missed extra point put Jefferson County back on top, 18-16.

Jefferson County forced Sevier County to go four and out once again to regain possession of the ball. With just over 5 minutes left in the half, the Patriots made the last score before the break. Jefferson County went in to the halftime break ahead of Sevier County, 24-16.

The second half shifted the competition to favor Jefferson County in a big way. The crumbling Smoky Bear offense produced little, to if any, yard gain before consistently going four and out and giving the ball back to a fired up Patriot squad.

Photo by Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Staff

The first score of the half would come after an impressive rushing drive by the Patriots. Atkins launched the ball 35 yards to the hands of Bolin for the first Patriot touchdown of the half, and their first successful extra point attempt of the game. The score was now 31-16. Another Gage Bolin touchdown a mere three minutes playtime later widened the gap even further, after a successful extra point, the score racked up to 38-16.

The fourth quarter was the same song. After a pick-6 with 9:41 left in the game, the Patriots decided to go for an extra 2. The decision paid off for Jefferson County, pulling the score even further away from Sevier County, 46-16. The final nail in the coffin came just after the two minute warning, with a breakout run all the way to the endzone. The extra point added to the sting, and the Jefferson County Patriots would send a mauled Smoky Bear squad back to Sevierville, 53-16.

Coach Riley, who was happy with the win, acknowledges that there is room for improvement, and much improvement has happened since last season. When asked about Atkins’ performance for the evening, Riley replied: “He managed the game, he did what he was supposed to do. He made plays when he was supposed to make plays, and he missed some plays. There’s always room for improvement.”

Photo by Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Staff

Up next for the Patriots, they will be welcoming Morristown East High School. The last time the Patriots and the Hurricanes met, Jefferson County won 25-0. Kickoff is at 7:30 on Friday.

Source: Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Sports