Jackets edge Tigers in thriller, 21-14

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By Goose Lindsay

Kingston head coach Blair Harrison had to wait four games to find out how his team would respond in a dog fight, but Harrison was more than pleased with what he found out as his Yellow Jackets held off a tough Rockwood Tiger team Friday night at Dr. Nat Sugarman Memorial Field, 21-14.

“This is the first game that we’ve had to play all four quarters this year, and I’m proud of how our kids responded,” Harrison said. “It was real exciting tonight, and our kids worked hard for this.

“My hat’s off to Rockwood. They’ve got a great team that got after us.”

For Tiger head coach John Webb, Friday’s loss would be the second heartbreaker in the last eight days. Grace Christian Academy downed the Tigers last Thursday, 12-7. In both games, Rockwood out gained their opponents in total yardage, with the Tigers holding a 300-116 advantage Friday night.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to win these things,” Webb said. “We dominated them statistically, but what matters most is the scoreboard and that’s where they got us.”

Rockwood started strong Friday as the Tigers defense forced a three-and-out to start the game then the Tigers offense marched 73 yards in six plays with Kyron Inman scoring on a 20-yard run.

Jared Breazeale added the PAT to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 6:48 left in the opening quarter.

Clay Cisson helped set up the score with a 35-yard run.

Kingston didn’t trail long, however, as the Jackets answered on their next offensive play as QB Brandon Ott fired a perfect 60-yard scoring pass to a streaking Dustin Kitts.

Keaton Shillings added the PAT to tie the score at 7-7 with 6:49 left in the first quarter.

Kingston’s special teams helped set up the next score as Aaron Acosta returned a Tiger punt 37 yards to the Tiger 27.

Kingston scored four plays later on a seven-yard pass from Ott to Acosta to make the score 14-7 with 3:28 left in the opening period.

The two touchdown passes would be the only passes Kingston attempted on the night.

“We knew we had to throw when they loaded it up on us,” Harrison said. “Brandon made some really good throws there to loosen them up.”

What happened on Rockwood’s next drive was perhaps the biggest play of the game.

The Tigers had drove from their own 20 to the Jacket 15 before a penalty and sack moved the ball back to the 35. That’s when on 4th-and-27, the Tigers tried a reverse, but the play backfired as the ball hit the ground and Kingston’s Brody Roberts scooped up the loose ball and returned it all the way to the Tiger 10 yard line.

Kingston scored three plays later on a five-yard run from Preston Edmonds to make the score 21-7 with 5:11 left in the first half.

Rockwood put together another solid drive just before halftime as the Tigers used a 39-yard pass from Breazeale to Hayden Freels to move the ball down to the Jacket 26. But again a penalty and sack stalled the drive as Kingston took the 14-point lead into the locker room at halftime.

Rockwood finally found the end zone again on their second drive of the second half, Starting from their own 28, the Tigers used a 57-yard run from Tyler Skidmore to set up a one-yard plunge from Cisson to make the score 21-14 with 4:23 left in the third quarter.

The rest of the contest would see Kingston’s defense stepping up and preserving the lead.

Following a Kingston punt, Rockwood put together an 11-play drive that reached the Jacket 43 before Kingston forced a punt.

Rockwood’s next drive started at Kingston’s 26 following a shanked punt, but the Tigers couldn’t pick up a first down.

Rockwood would get the ball back one last time at the Jackets 45 with 1:09 left to play, but the Tigers fumbled two plays into the drive as Kingston celebrated winning the Roane County championship trophy for the third year in a row.

“Our defense played their heart out,” Harrison. “They were out there all night long, but they kept making plays. We’re going to have to do more on offense to help them out.

Kingston improved to 4-0 overall with the win. Next up for the Jackets is a District 4-AA contest at Stone Memorial.

“Stone’s got a good team,” Harrison said. “We’re going to have to be ready to go on the road and take care of business.”

For Rockwood, the Tigers will receive a forfeit win next week as the Tigers scheduled oppenent, Taft Youth Center, did not field a team this year.

“The last two weeks have been tough, but we’re going to keep working,” Webb said. “We had the same record last year and finished strong. That’s what I expect us to do this year.”

Rockwood Statistics

Rushing- Cisson 18-84 with 1 TD, Inman 13-63 with 1 TD, Breazeale 5-(-4)Long 4-16, Skidmore 5-71, Freels 3-19, Team 2-(-8).

Passing- Breazeale 4-10 for 59 yards.

Receiving- Freels 3-60, Inman 1-(-1).

Kingston Statistics

Rushing- Roberts 9-38, Kitts 9-24, Lane 2-3, Jones 1-(-1), Edmonds 1-5 with 1 TD, Ott 3-(-12), Team 2-(-8).

Passing- Ott 2-2 for 67 yards with 2 TDs.

Receiving- Acosta 1-7 with 1 TD, Kitts 1-60 with 1 TD.