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The Harriman Blue Devils will one day put an end to Kingston's winning streak in football, but that day will have to wait at least one more year as the Yellow Jackets travelled to Harriman Friday night and defeated the Blue Devils, 33-15, in a packed house at Wallace Black Field.
"I thought we played really well," Kingston head coach Vic King said following the Jackets 18th straight victory over the Blue Devils. "I'm proud of our kids. They've fought hard. We've had some issues with the heat and we've had some injuries so it's been hard to get a rhythm in practice, but we did pretty good tonight. We've still got a lot of work ahead of us."
Kingston came out aggressive on both sides of the ball Friday night.
Defensively, Kingston's defense opened the game with a pair of three-and-outs.
Offensively, the thought coming in was the Jackets might play it close to the vest with Darren Mossing making his first career start at quarterback, but Coach King showed right away that he has a lot of trust in his senior signal caller as the Jackets first play from scrimmage was a 42-yard strike from Mossing to Robbie Szozda.
"It gives me a lot of confidence to know that Coach King has that much trust in me," Mossing said of throwing deep to open the game.
King said there wasn't a bit worried about Mossing possibly having first game jitters.
"He can throw it and we've got guys that can go catch it," King said when asked about the play call. "He's one of the leaders of this football team and definitely the leader on offense. He has good touch on the ball."
Kingston took the lead five plays later when Demarcus Foster capped the 6-play, 69-yard drive with a one yard run. Andy Spellman added the PAT to give Kingston a 7-0 lead with 6:63 left in the first quarter.
Harriman's first two drives of the night might have gone nowhere, but the Blue Devils third drive was a different story.
Starting from their own 35, Brandon Williams gained 38 yards on two carries as the Blue Devils were suddenly knocking on the door. Harriman knocked the door down seven plays later when Cole McAbee scored from six yards out.
Harriman rolled the dice and went for two on the conversion and the gamble worked as Lucas Lunsford found the end zone to give the Blue Devils an 8-7 lead with 10:37 left in the first half.
Harriman's lead, however, didn't last long as Kingston's next drive lasted only three plays and covered 63 yards with Mossing finding a wide open Jordan Jones for a 46-yard touchdown with 8:57 left in the first half.
Kingston went for two but the attempt failed, leaving the score 13-8.
Harriman seemed poised to answer and possibly take the lead by halftime. Sparked by a defensive pass interference penalty and a 19-yard pass from Mark Chesser to Dimitrique Inman, the Devils marched all the way to the Kingston 14 before a holding penalty helped stall the drive.
The drive ended two plays after the penalty as Chesser was sacked. He fumbled on the play and the loose ball was recovered by Kingston's Aaron Fielden.
Kingston led by just five points at halftime, but the Jackets had a lot of confidence heading into the third quarter and that confidence came in the form of senior FB Coty Groves. Groves missed the first half of Friday's game because of an off-the-field incident, but like Mossing in the first half, Groves got the call early in the second half.
Groves opened the third period with a 22-yard run and he broke free for a 37-yard run on the next snap. After a defensive penalty, Groves scored from two yards out to cap a 3-play, 63-yard drive.
Spellman's PAT made the score 20-8 with 10:37 left in the third quarter.
"I was happy to get out there," Groves said. "Our students really got me going. You have to give a lot of credit to our offensive line. They did a great job."
"We felt like we could just run over them," Mossing added. "We didn't really have to throw it once we got going on the ground."
The momentum swung fully in Kingston's corner on Harriman's next possession as junior CB Preston King picked off a pass and gave the Jackets the ball again at their own 26.
Kingston marched the ball quickly down to the Harriman 28 and would have had it inside the 10, but like Harriman in the first half, a holding penalty helped kill the drive. Then Kingston shot themselves in the foot on the ensuing punt as the snap went over Zach Brummitt's head for a 28-yard loss.
Harriman took over at the Kingston 25 after the bad snap and scored eight plays later on a one yard run from McAbee. Tyler Dishman added the PAT to cut Kingston's lead to 20-15 with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
"I thought we had a chance to put them away until that holding penalty and that bad snap on the punt," King said. "But you've got to give them credit. They kept fighting back."
But just like the first half, Kingston answered Harriman's score with a score of their own as the Jackets marched 60 yards in eight plays before Foster scored from three yards out.
Spellman added his third PAT of the night to make the score 27-15 with 9:35 left to play.
Harriman's next possession ended on downs at the Kingston 43 then the Jackets put the game away on their next possession.
Staring from their own 43, Kingston covered 57 yards in seven plays with Groves scoring from two yards out. Groves was a workhorse on the drive as he carried five straight times for 35 yards.
The PAT was no good, leaving the score 33-15 with 4:12 left to play.
Kingston ended the evening with 377 yards of total offense and the Jackets would have had more than 400 yards if not for the bad snap on the punt.
The Jackets ran the ball 35 times on the night with Groves leading the way with 139 yards and two TDs on 14 carries.
Mossing completed 8 of 15 passes for 141 yards and one score on the night.
Harriman finished the evening with 119 yards rushing on 42 attempts while Chesser completed 2 of 4 passes for 51 yards. Williams was Harriman's leading rusher with 65 yards on nine carries.
For Harriman, Friday's loss was just another in a long line of defeats to the Jackets. Last year the Devils bounced back nicely as they advanced all the way to the TSSAA Class A quarterfinals and Blue Devil head coach Travis Tapp knows his team must forget about Friday's game quickly if they want to get things turned around.
"There's nothing we can do about this one now," Tapp said. "We've got to put it behind us and move on. This is the time we'll see what kind of character we have. We've got to bounce back quickly and get ready for Midway."
Harriman faces Midway Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the District 3-A opener.
Kingston also opens district play Friday when the Jackets host Scott in a District 4-AA contest. Kickoff is also set for 7:30 p.m.
Rushing- Foster 6-25 with 2 TDs, Litton 2-2, Fielden 8-57, Sams 4-41, Groves 14-139 with 2 TDs, Team 1-(-28).
Passing- Mossing- 8-15 for 141 yards with 1 TD.
Receiving- Jones 1-46 with 1 TD, Fielden 3-26, Szozda 1-42, Foster 1-7, Kennedy 1-6, Sams 1-14.
Rushing- Inman 12-36, Lunsford 7-26, Williams 9-65, McAbee 5-23 with 2 TDs, Chesser 5-(-20), Stubbs 1-8, Stockton 1-(-6), Gilmore 1-(-4), Team 1-(-9).
Passing- Chesser 2-4 for 51 yards with 1 INT.
Receiving- Inman 2-51.