Photo by Elmer Smith
Grainger Today Correspondent
RUTLEDGE – Last Thursday evening, the Rutledge Middle School Pioneer football team took on the Meadowview Middle School Vikings from Morristown. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed due to heavy rain and lightning. After the officiating crew borrowed a coin for the opening coin toss, the Pioneers won and opted to receive the kickoff.
On that possession, an interception stopped the Pioneers to give the Vikings their first opportunity on offense. However, Meadowview was unable to sustain a drive, and the Pioneers took over on their own 32-yard line. A 5-yard run by Jake Hill, a 12-yard run by Ty Overbay and a 14-yard gain by Cainnan Long set up a first down for Rutledge at the Meadowview 37-yard line. From there, Overbay took it to the end zone for a touchdown. That was followed by a two-point conversion run by Long for an 8-0 lead with 3:27 remaining in the first quarter.
The ensuing Pioneer kickoff was recovered by the Vikings at the Rutledge 49-yard line. Meadowview drove the ball to the Rutledge 19-yard line as the first quarter ended with Rutledge holding a precarious 8-0 lead. That changed on the first play of the second quarter when the Vikings scored on a 19-yard pass and added a two-point conversion to knot the score at 8-all.
The following possession for the Pioneers moved the ball for a first down at the Viking 30-yard line. However, that possession ended with a pass interception. Meadowview fumbled on the second play of the series as Rutledge took over on the Viking 44-yard line. After Overbay gained 16 yards on the first play of the possession, Ian Dortch tossed the ball down the right sideline where Overbay went up and took the pass away from a much taller defensive back at the 22-yard line and then took the ball to the end zone for a touchdown. The two-point conversion gave Rutledge a 16-8 lead with under a minute remaining in the half.
On the first play of the series, a big stop by Freddy Reyes was followed by an interception by Long on the last play of the half, and the Pioneers took a halftime lead of 16-8.
In their first possession of the third quarter, the Vikings took possession of the ball at the Rutledge 48-yard line and scored on a 52-yard touchdown run 16 seconds into the second half. The two-point conversion attempt failed as the Pioneer lead stood at 16-14. After putting the ball in play at their own 36-yard line, the Pioneers got 8 yards on two carries and a 22-yard run by Overbay that moved the ball to the Meadowview 34-yard line. However the drive broke down as the Vikings took possession at their own 29-yard line. On the first play of the possession, the Vikings scored on a 71-yard run and then converted a two-point conversion for a 22-16 lead with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter.
After failing to move the ball earlier in the third stanza, the Pioneers took possession on a drive that extended into the fourth quarter. That possession ended in a score when Hill rammed the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. Quarterback Ian Dortch then converted an all-important, two-point conversion for a 24-22 lead in the final quarter.
“All year we have been able to answer when we have fallen behind in the game,” said head coach Richard Livesay. “And we did it again tonight.”
After falling behind, the Vikings were able to move the ball to the Rutledge 30-yard line. With the game on the line, the Rutledge defense dug in as Jett McAnally made a big stop on first down. That was followed by another big stop by Tucker Gillette, who then teamed with Dortch to stop the Vikings and give the Pioneers possession, with four downs resulting in no gain for Meadowview.
After the Pioneers took possession at their own 30-yard line, a first-down run by Hill gained 2 yards before Overbay scampered 68 yards for a score. Another two-point conversion by Dortch stretched the Rutledge lead to 34-22.
The Vikings didn’t give up. They drove the ball into scoring position before Hill intercepted a pass at the Pioneer 3-yard line, and the Pioneers upped their record to 3-0 with the 34-22 victory.
“The defense gutted it out and learned to stay home,” said Livesay. “We’ve got to do away with the mental errors that cost us. Ian Dortch continued to show that he is a good leader, and obviously Ty Overbay had another good job on offense. Bryant Riley, who saw his first action, had a big game for us on defense.”
The Pioneers will play their final home game of the season next Tuesday, September 19, when they take on the Jefferson Middle School Elks in a 6 p.m. game.