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November 19, 2017

Grizzly Mark Lemka rushes for yards against the Greene Devils in last Friday’s matchup in Greeneville. 

Photo by Robert Turner 

Grizzlies fall to Greeneville Greene Devils 

Elmer Smith
Grainger Today Correspondent 

 GREENEVILLE – The Grainger High School Grizzly football team traveled to Greeneville High School last Friday night to take on the region rival Greene Devils, the number one 4-A team in the state. 

The Greene Devils, who have not been challenged by any of their opponents this season, won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. After putting the ball in play at the Grainger 49-yard line, the Devils needed only four plays and just over a minute to put points on the board and take a 7-0 lead. 

After Jacob Bunch gained 14 yards and moved the chains for a first down, the Grizzlies were unable to continue the possession, and Grainger faced a fourth-and-seven at their own 36-yard line. However, instead of allowing the punt, the Devils elected to call a timeout. The reason for the time out is questionable, but it could have been that Greeneville wanted to save the few seconds before the snap to insure they would have more time to put more points on the board early. 

Grainger punter Zac Courter got off a 41-yard kick that gave Greeneville the ball at their own 21-yard line. The Devil’s powerhouse offense again used only four plays to increase their lead to 14-0, with 7:46 remaining in the first quarter.  

On their second possession, the Grizzlies gained one first down, with three carries by Bunch totaling 12 yards. Although Grainger had a 5-yard pass completion from Courter to Reagan Wiser and a 4-yard gain by Bunch, the Grizzlies were forced to punt. Once again, Greeneville scored quickly for a 21-0 lead, with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter. 

With the Greeneville kickoff man booming his kicks into the end zone, the Grizzlies again started their possession at the 20-yard line. On the strength of a 9-yard run on first down by Bunch, the Grizzlies were able to move the chains once before being forced to punt on the first play of the second quarter. A pass interference call against the Grizzlies led to another score and a 28-0 lead for the Devils, with nine minutes remaining in the half. 

Although down, the Grizzlies continued to battle. After putting the ball in play at their own 20-yard line, the Grizzlies, who do not throw the ball often, got two completions from Courter to Wiser for 17 yards and one pass from Courter to Mark Lemka for five. Added to that was hard running by Bunch and Courter which allowed Grainger to put together a 16-yard drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock. Grainger lost the ball to a fumble at the Greeneville 41-yard line, with 23 seconds remaining in the half. 

Once again, the Greene Devils did their best to put points on the board. This time it failed. The Devils completed a 19-yard pass to the Grainger 24-yard line as the horn sounded to end the first half of play. At that point, the officials, with a little prodding from the Greeneville side of the field, put .6 of a second back on the clock and allowed Greeneville a field goal attempt that fell short. The half ended with the Greeneville lead at 28-0. 

The second half opened with Grainger giving the ball to Bunch, who responded with 17-hard yards on six carries before a Grainger punt. Another quick score by Greeneville, for a 35-0 lead, put the mercy rule into play allowing for a running clock with 7:30 remaining in the third quarter.  

Grainger put the ball into play at their own 20-yard line and put together a 12-play drive that lasted the remainder of the third quarter and one minute of the fourth quarter. That drive, which included a 17-yard and a 7-yard pass to Bunch, and good gains on the ground from Courter and Bunch, was good for 12 plays before Greeneville took over on downs. 

Although Greeneville led by 35 points, the Devils, who still had their first team in the game, added a touchdown for a 42-0 lead.  

After a three-and-out by the Grizzlies, a punt gave Greeneville the ball at their own 31-yard line. On the third play, a Greeneville fumble was recovered by Tyler Hodge, with three and a half minutes remaining in the game. With the Grizzly reserves on the field, Grainger got runs of 8 and 6 yards from Brandon Greenlee, two runs of 5 yards each from Tommy Martinez and a 5-yard run from Drake Farrow to move to the Greeneville 23-yard line as time ran out.  

With the loss, the Grizzly record dropped to 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the region. At this time, Grainger and Sullivan East are tied at 2-3 in region play. However, the Grizzlies defeated the Patriots and have the tie-breaker for seeding in postseason action. Thus, unless Sullivan East beats Greeneville and Grainger loses to Union County, the Grizzlies will be the four-seed in Region One and will qualify for the playoffs. 

The Grizzlies return home against region foe Union County High School this Friday for a 7:30 p.m. Senior Night game. 

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