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November 17, 2017

The Grainger defense brings down a Cyclone during Friday’s game.

Photo by Robert Turner

Grainger Grizzlies fall to Elizabethton

Elmer Smith
Grainger Today Correspondent

ELIZABETHTON – Last Friday night, the Grainger High School Grizzlies traveled to Elizabethton to take on the Cyclones in a Region One football game. Elizabethton won the toss and deferred their option to the second half. Marcos Bueno’s strategic kickoff gave the Cyclones possession at their own 31-yard line. After a big run that was brought back by a block in the back penalty, two Elizabethton passes were defended by Reagan Wiser. A pro Cyclone punt and a Grizzly 5-yard run gave Grainger possession at their own 43-yard line.

After a procedure penalty on their first possession, the Grizzlies went to their old reliable, Jacob Bunch, who responded with 21 yards in four carries to move the ball to the Cyclone’s 40-yard line. However, the drive bogged down, and an incomplete pass on fourth down turned the ball over to Elizabethton at their 42-yard line. A first-down run by the Cyclones gained 46 yards before Preston Owens made a touchdown-saving tackle at the Grizzly 12-yard line. Tackles by Wiser and Cody Staley prevented scores on two plays before a 4-yard plunge gave the Cyclones a touchdown. The point-after kick was good, and Elizabethton opened a 7-0 lead with 4:53 remaining in the first quarter.

Elizabethton’s kicker, who consistently put kickoffs in the end zone throughout the game, put the ball at the Grainger 20-yard line for their next possession. A run of 6 yards by Zac Courter and five by Bunch moved the chains once and a 4-yard gain by Wiser and two carries by Bunch for 8 yards moved the chains again. A 5-yard gain by Owens and an 11-yard run by Bunch moved Grainger to the Elizabethton 40-yard line. On a first-down pass by the Grizzlies, an obvious pass interference was not called and two plays later a face mask grab, which jerked Bunch’s head to the side, was not called as the Grizzlies turned the ball over on downs at the Elizabethton 38-yard line with 20 seconds remaining in the quarter.

On the first play of the Cyclone’s possession, a motion penalty was called. On a long running play, Elizabethton was called for holding as time expired in the first quarter. However, the chaotic-officiating decisions continued as the officials ruled that Elizabethton, the team that had broken the rules, would have an untimed down instead of moving the game to the second quarter as the rules dictated. The Cyclones then scored on a 71-yard run to take a 14-0 lead into the second quarter.

After Grainger moved the chains once on their possession that started the second quarter, they were unable to gain another first down. From that point, the game spiraled downward for the Grizzlies. For the first six plays of that possession, the strong defensive efforts of Andrew Armstrong, Devon Kinsler, Lawrence Ratliff and a near interception by Bryson Collins kept the Cyclones at bay and set up a fourth-and-five at the Grainger 24-yard line. A holding call moved the ball back 15 yards and was followed by a substitution infraction by Elizabethton. On the next fourth-down play, a questionable pass interference call, especially in view of the no call earlier against Elizabethton, didn’t result in a first down (which is usually the case with pass interference). On the fifth consecutive fourth-down play, the Cyclones connected on a 35-yard touchdown pass. On that play, the Grizzlies were flagged for roughing the passer. On the point-after-conversion attempt, the Grizzlies were off side which moved the ball to the 1 1/2-yard line. Elizabethton then decided to go for two points and were successful to push their lead to 22-0.

After a the roughing-the-passer penalty was assessed on the kickoff, Elizabethton then successfully executed an onside kick, recovered the ball and scored their second touchdown in 20 seconds for a 29-0 lead. Another touchdown, with 50 seconds remaining in the half, put the Cyclone lead at 36-0. This enacted the mercy rule resulting in a running clock for the second half.

In the second half, the Grizzlies rested many of their starters as the outcome of the game was not in doubt. Elizabethton scored two additional touchdowns, the second with only 1:39 remaining for a 49-0 victory.

Bunch, who had 70 yards in 70 carries, led the Grizzlies in rushing. He was followed by Brandon Greenlee, who had 40 yards on seven carries, Regan Wiser, with 19 yards on three carries, and Preston Owens, with 13 yards on three carries.

The loss dropped the Grizzlies overall record to 2-2 and 0-2 in the region. Their next game will be Friday when the team returns home for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against the Volunteer High School Falcons, who lost to Cherokee High School, 48-7, last Friday and are currently 0-5 on the season.

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