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Blue Devils claim Clinch Valley title

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By Goose Lindsay

The drought is over for the Harriman Middle School Blue Devils, as Thursday night Baron Tapp's squad defeated Midway in the Clinch Valley Conference small division championship game, 36-16.

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Thursday's title was the Blue Devils first since 2006. Before 2006, Harriman played in seven straight title games, winning four.

“This one is special because it's been a while since we've won a title game,” Harriman head coach Baron Tapp said. “From 2000 to 2006 we were winning a lot of titles, but this one is good for the team, school and community.” 

Harriman's victory seemed almost impossible midway through the regular season after suffering a 46-8 loss in a district contest at Oliver Springs, but Tapp says his squad never gave up on winning a title.

“Even after that loss I thought we could get back to the title game,” Tapp said. “I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but our guys kept fighting and working hard.”

For Midway, Thursday's loss was disappointing, but considering the team had just eight 8th graders on the squad, the season as a whole was rewarding for the Green Wave.

“It didn't turn out how we had hoped tonight but our boys gave a great effort,” Midway head coach Randy Steele said. “We had some chances tonight, but they were the better team and I give Coach Tapp a lot of credit. His team was very physical tonight.”

Harriman never trailed Thursday and it was the Blue Devils' defense that came up big as they forced a Midway punt from near midfield to open the game.

Harriman then drove 74 yards in 11 plays with QB Jeter Cox capping the drive with a 13-yard scoring pass to Zach Perrine. 

Austin Barnett added the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0 with 5:54 left in the second quarter.

After forcing another three-and-out, Harriman drove the field again as Barnett opened a 3-play, 61-yard scoring drive with a 40-yard run. Barnett scored two plays on a 9-yard run to give the Blue Devils a 16-0 lead after Garrett Greene added the two-point run with 3:22 left in the first half.

Midway then put together their best drive of the half as the Green Wave drove all the way from their own 47 to the Harriman 6 yard line before Harriman's Joseph Martinez recovered a fumble inside the 10 yard line with 32.6 seconds left in the first half.

Both coaches agreed that the stop by the Harriman defense played a big role in Harriman's victory.

“It would have been a big momentum turn if we could have scored before halftime,” Steele said. “Then we played the whole third quarter in terrible field position and could never come up with a big play.”

“I think that stop before halftime sealed the game,” Tapp added. “If Midway scores there it's a whole new game, but we got the stop and kept the momentum.”

Most of the third period was played deep inside Midway territory and that played into Harriman's hands.

Harriman opened the second half with a 52-yard kickoff return from Greene that moved the ball to the Midway 19. 

The Blue Devils didn't score on that drive, but Harriman's defense did force another three-and-out and set up shop at Midway's 21 after a 19-yard punt return from Barnett.

Greene scored two plays later on a 13-yard run to make the score 22-0 with 2:42 left in the third period.

Harriman's two-point try was no good.

Harriman's defense continued to apply the pressure after the kickoff as Martinez picked off a pass and returned it to the Green Wave 14.

The Blue Devils again turned away from the end zone, but after turning the ball over on downs at the 4, Harriman forced another three-and-out on defense then the Blue Devils put the game away with a 3-play 14-yard drive that ended in a 13-yard run from Cox. 

Cox passed to Hunter Clark for the two-point conversion that made the score 30-0 with 4:45 left to play.

Midway finally got some good field position after the kick and the Green Wave responded with an 8-play, 38-yard scoring drive that ended in a 14-yard run from Griffin Dishner with 2:15 left to play.

QB Jake Woody passed to Sammy Hester to make the score 30-8 with 2:15 left to play.

Midway then successfully recovered an onside kick and drove 52 yards in only five plays with Dishner scoring on another 14-yard run.

Woody passed to Drake Romines for the two-point conversion that made the score 30-16 with 58.3 seconds left to play.

Any hopes of a Midway miracle ended quickly thereafter as Harriman recovered the onside kick then Greene ripped off a 44-yard scoring run with 47.6 seconds left to make the final score 36-16.

Harriman ended the evening with 226 yards total offense on 29 plays.

The one-two combination of Barnett (11-94, 1 TD) and Greene (11-92, 2 TDs) combined for 186 of those 226 yards.

Midway countered with 154 yards offense on 42 plays.

Dishner led the way with 73 yards and 2 TDs on 17 carries, but those numbers were acceptable to Coach Tapp.

“We knew coming in that we had to contain Dishner from Midway,” Tapp said. “He made some plays, but we were able to keep up with him for the most part. We were also able to keep their offense off the field quite a bit.”

Midway Statistics

Rushing- Dishner 17-73 with 2 TDs, Lyle 1-14, Lamm 4-9, Woody 8-22.

Passing- Woody 3-12 for 36 yards with 1 INT.

Receiving- Lyle 1-11, Palko 1-17, Dishner 1-7.

Harriman Statistics

Rushing- Barnett 11-94 with 1 TD, Greene 11-92 with 2 TDs, Cox 3-19 with 1 TD, Team 2-(-2).

Passing- Cox 2-2 for 23 yards with 1 TD.

 Receiving- Clark 1-10, Perrine 1-13 with 1 TD.