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By TANK JOHNSON
On a night when Harriman football celebrated senior night, visiting Grace Christian ruined the party by hanging a 21-0 loss on the Blue Devils.
Harriman (5-3, 3-1) came out flat on offense and committed several turnovers that, coupled with some mental mistakes and penalties, allowed the Rams to build a 15-0 lead at the end of the first half. Grace continued to control the game and other than a few defensive highlights, kept Harriman in check most of the night.
Harriman's talented running attack was unable to produce against a Ram defense.
During the first half, the Blue Devils gained a total of 28 yards of offense, rushing the ball 15 times for 22 yards on the ground.
With running backs Dimitrique Inman and Brandon Williams being held down, coupled with a pair of big turnovers, the Devils saw Grace score as the second quarter ended, giving the Rams all the momentum needed.
Grace opened the game with the football, but Harriman's Martin Mitchell picked off a Ram pass with 9:29 left in the first to squash that drive. Harriman was unable to move the football, but a punt pinned Grace at their own 8-yard line.
An opportunistic Harriman defense made another break when Inman scooped up a Grace fumble, giving the Devils a first down at the Grace 34-yard line. The Rams, however, picked off a Harriman pass and would use the powerful running of Jared Carlton to move down the field and score. Carlton finished the night with a whopping 214 yards.
Later, Harriman saw a long pass go through a receiver's hands and into the hands of a Grace defender, ending another potential scoring drive deep in Ram territory.
Despite the lack of offense, Harriman appeared to be in the game, trailing by just a touchdown. But as the second quarter ended and Grace facing a fourth down, Will McKamey took a pitch, rolled right, then turned and threw back to his quarterback, who was wide open for another Grace touchdown.
That score, putting Grace ahead 15-0, seemed to take the wind out of the Big Blue sails.
Midway through the third quarter, Grace was facing another fourth down inside their own territory. Electing to go for it, the Rams ran into Shaquille Love. The Kentucky committment crushed the Ram runner, setting up Harriman in great field position with a chance to get something going.
But the series never developed, with the Blue Devils fumbling the ball away on a fourth down play.
Harriman's defense played tough in the second half, led by Love, Cole McAbee, Hunter Crass, and Jace Green. Another Blue Devil defender, Brandon Presswood, picked up another Grace fumble as the fourth quarter started and it looked, once again, like Harriman may get something going.
But a great play, which Blue Devil quarterback Mark Chesser hit Inman, who then went over three Ram defenders to make a catch deep in Grace territory, was nullified by a holding call.
That was it and after Grace tacked on another score, the Rams celebrated the District 3-A victory at Wallace-Black field.
Harriman tries to bounce back this Friday, visiting rival Coalfield in a non-district affair. The Blue Devils will then wrap up the regular season in a huge district game against neighbor Rockwood on Oct. 29.
A victory over the Tigers would give the Blue Devils at least a tie for the District 3-A title and would secure Travis Tapp’s squad a berth in the TSSAA Class A playoffs.