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It may have been a sluggish start for the Harriman Blue Devils, but Travis Tapp’s squad exorcised the Hancock County Indians by a 34-11 margin to kick off the high school football season for both teams Friday night.
Harriman piled up 401 rushing yards on the strength of the triple threat rushing attack of Garrett Greene, Mikey Roberts, and Kaleb Eleam, who amassed 367 of those yards leading the way.
"They (Hancock County) came out and played our game early on and controlled the game, but we kept battling back and we challenged the team in the second half," Harriman head coach Travis Tapp said. "I'm really proud of the effort our running backs and defense showed for us tonight."
"We started out well and I was really proud of two particular stands in the third quarter where we showed a lot of character,” Hancock County head coach Phil Blevins. “We played a really good team tonight."
After an exchange of punts to start the game, Hancock County started at their own 17 yard line and worked their way to the Harriman 14 yard line, where Cody Easterday kicked a 31-yard field goal with 5.6 seconds left in the first quarter.
Harriman punted the ball away again on their second possession, but the third drive of the 2013 season would be the charm, as Harriman took the lead.
The Blue Devils marched 86 yards in seven plays, scoring when Greene broke free of the Indian defenders for the 26-yard touchdown run.
Grant Jenkins split the uprights with his PAT to make the score 7-3 with 4:11 left in the half.
After the Indians went three-and-out, Harriman covered 65 yards in seven plays to score on a 9-yard touchdown run by Greene through the heart of the Indian defense.
The PAT was no good making the score 13-3 with 54.8 seconds left in the half.
A key to Harriman’s late charge in the first half was a formation shift.
"We saw that we needed to switch to the I-Formation in the second quarter and get our boys going downhill with the field wet," Tapp said. "Our line up front was a big strong point for us so we took advantage of that the rest of the game."
Harriman started the second half getting deep into Hancock County territory before being turned away on fourth down after the defense stopped them in their tracks.
Andrew Chesser, however, quickly snatched away an errant Indian pass and got the ball back at the Indian 23. The Blue Devils were unable to pick up a first down again, but the had gained an edge in field position.
The Indians wound up punting the ball back to the Blue Devils. Harriman used a 32-yard Kaleb Eleam return to set up shop at the 13 yard line, and then on the very next play when Roberts rumbled into the end zone.
A botched snap on the extra point turned into the gift of two points for the Devils when Brantley Taylor outran the pursuing defenders to push the lead to 21-3.
Hancock County coughed up the ball on their next possession and Jacob Brock pounced on it for the Devils, setting up a 4-play, 68-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 9-yard jaunt from Roberts to make the score 27-3 with 10:49 left in the game.
The PAT fell short.
Hancock County tried to keep it close, as the Indians got a 32-yard touchdown strike from Wilson Smythe to Kolby Mullins.
Hancock County added the two point conversion when Smyth found Dakota Trent to cut the lead down to 27-11.
There would be no late comeback though. Harriman got one last score when they turned a 6-play, 60-yard drive into six points with JoJo Luna darted in from seven yards out.
Jenkins' PAT was good to score the game's final points.
Harriman out gained Hancock County in total yardage 401-218 with all of Harriman's yardage coming on the ground.
Harriman was led on the ground by Greene (20-195-2 TDs), Roberts (11-87-2 TD's) and Eleam (8-85).
The Blue Devils were led on defense by Adam Brock (6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR), Chesser (5 tackles, 1 INT), and Greene (5 tackles, 1 TFL).
Hancock County was led by Wilson Smyth's arm (7-17, 118 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and feet (7-42) along with Cody Easterday (10-41).
The Indians were led in receiving by Dakota Trent (4-54)
Harriman (1-0) should get a stern test Friday night when a talented Sunbright (1-0) invades Roane County.
“I was particularly impressed with our conditioning tonight but next week, we have to get back to work and keep working because this Sunbright team we have is for real," Tapp said.
Rushing- Greene 20-195 with 2 TDs, Roberts 11-87 with 2 TDs, Eleam 8-85, Phipps 1-20, Luna 2-11 with 1 TD, Perrine 1-2, Taylor 3-3.