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Devils come up short on the road

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By Goose Lindsay, Sports Editor

Coaches often trade and study film of upcoming opponents.

Unfortunately for the Harriman Blue Devils, film study turned out to be a waste of time as the Tellico Plains Bears threw in some new wrinkles and downed Harriman, 41-24, on homecoming night at Tellico Plains.

“They’ve been running the wishbone, but tonight they came out in the wing-t and they ran it well,” Harriman head coach Travis Tapp said. “They hadn’t won a game coming in, but they’ve played some really good teams that were a combined 15-1. A couple of them are ranked in the top 10 in the state.”

Another thing that caught the Blue Devils off guard was Bear RB Adam Reece. Reece didn’t play for Tellico Plains in their loss against Coalfield the week before, but Reece exploded for 261 yards rushing and three TDs against the Blue Devils Friday night.

“Number two (Reece) didn’t play the last game and wasn’t on film so we didn’t know quite what to expect from him, but he’s a great player that can really run it,” Tapp said.

Tellico Plains’ new offense caught Harriman off guard as the Bears opened the game with a 59-yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead with 9:12 left in the opening period.

Reece scored the touchdown on a two-yard run.

The Bears looked ready to score again on their next possession as Reece broke free for a 57-yard gain to the Harriman 16, but Blue Devil DB Chris Works picked off a pass to stop the threat.

Special teams was another area that hurt the Blue Devils Friday night and after a three-and-out on offense, Tellico Plains’ Zach Strickland returned a Harriman punt 52 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-0 with 4:25 left in the opening period.

Harriman failed to pick up a first down on their first three drives of the night, but following a Bear fumble that was recovered by Andrew Chesser, Harriman drove 63 yards in only four plays for their first points of the game.

Levi Inman scored on a 27-yard run to make the score 14-6 with 10:40 left in the first half.

Harriman’s PAT was no good.

The score remained 14-6 until the Bears used a shanked Harriman punt to set up shop at the Blue Devils 39. Tellico Plains scored three plays later on a 30-yard run from Reece to make the score 20-6 with 5:27 left in the first half.

Tellico Plains’ PAT was no good.

“Field position and special teams win games,” Tapp said. “It seemed we were playing on our side of the field all night tonight and it’s hard to win that way.”

Harriman did get a spark from their own special teams on the ensuing kickoff as Kaleb Eleam raced 73 yards to the Tellico Plains 14, but Harriman would get no closer as the Bears took the 14-point lead into the locker room at halftime.

Tellico Plains threatened to pull away at the start of the second half. Sparked by a 60-yard punt return from Reece, the Bears needed only nine yards on offense to score again, making the score 28-6 following a successful two-point try with 9:12 left in the third quarter.

Harriman didn’t quit, however, as the Blue Devils marched 79 yards in 13 plays with Mikey Roberts scoring on a two-yard run to make the score 28-12 with 2:24 left in the third quarter.

Harriman’s two-point try was no good.

Tellico Plains, however, used another good kick return along with a late hit penalty to set up shop at the Harriman 32 after the kickoff. 

The Bears scored on the next play on a 32-yard run from Strickland to make the score 35-12 with 2:03 left in the third quarter.

The offensive fireworks continued on Harriman’s next possession as the Blue Devils put together a seven-play, 76-yard scoring drive that ended on a 47-yard pass from Brantley Taylor to Works on fourth-and-17.

Harriman’s two-point try was again no good, leaving the score 35-18 with 10:59 left to play.

Harriman’s defense then made things interesting as Brandon Presswood recovered a Bears fumble to end Tellico Plains next drive.

Harriman scored two plays later on a 49-yard pass from Taylor to Works as the Blue Devils pulled to within 35-24 with 5:44 left to play.

Harriman’s two-point try was no good.

The Blue Devils tried to keep hope alive as they forced a three-and-out on defense, but the hopes of a Harriman miracle ended on the ensuing punt as the Blue Devils fumbled the kick with Tellico Plains recovering at the Harriman 20.

Reece scored two plays later on a five-yard run to make the final score 41-14.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Tapp said. “We’ve got a ton of guys injured and we’re playing a lot of young guys, but these guys are playing hard and not quitting. We’ve got guys that are stepping up and we’re going to keep working hard to get better as a team.”

Harriman’s offense continued to show improvement after a slow start to the season. 

Friday night, Harriman amassed 325 yards of total offense with 229 of those yards coming on the ground.

Taylor King led the way with 95 yards on eight carries. Roberts (14-53-1TD), Inman (6-49-1 TD) and Garrett Greene (7-35) also put up solid numbers on the ground for the Blue Devils.

Harriman was playing without star running back Lucas Lunsford who missed the game with an injury.

Up next for Harriman is a trip to Wartburg to take on the Bulldogs. Wartburg defeated Oakdale Friday night, 40-0.

“Wartburg’s got a good football team with something like 16 or 18 seniors,” Tapp said. “They played Oneida to a 6-0 game so that says a lot about them.

“But we’re going to keep working hard this week. We’ll buckle it up Friday night and see what happens.” 

Harriman Statistics

Rushing- Roberts 14-53 with 1 TD, Inman 6-49 with 1 TD, Taylor 1-(-15), Greene 7-35, Eleam 4-11, King 8-95, Kirkland 1-1.

Passing- Taylor 2-13 for 96 yards with 2 TDs.

 Receiving- Works 2-96 with 2 TDs.