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Kingston head coach Vic King has been around long enough to know that if you're going to knock off the state's No. 2 ranked team, you're going to have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
Kingston wasn't able to do that Friday night as Christian Academy of Knoxville broke free from a 14-14 halftime tie by scoring the first 28 points in the second half and the result was a 42-21 victory for the Warriors.
“I thought we played 'em tough, but against a team like that you've got to convert when you have chances,” King said following the loss. “We had two big scoring opportunities in the first half that we didn't take advantage of. We dropped a touchdown pass on our first possession and we fumbled around the 10 after a big pass in the second quarter. We could've been up 28-14 at the half.
“Then in the second half, we had bad field position, a couple of bad punts, and a penalty that took away a big play for us. That gave them the momentum and they never gave it back.”
Kingston's first missed opportunity came on their first possession.
After driving from their own 41 to the Warrior 34, Kingston QB Darren Mossing lofted a pass toward the goal line and an open Robbie Szozda. Szozda has made a lot of tough catches this season, but he was unable to pull down the over the shoulder catch, and it proved costly as CAK's Charlie High picked off a pass at the Warrior 1 two plays later.
The Warriors then went on a beautiful 11-play, 99-yard drive that ended in QB Quinn Epperly tossing an 18-yard scoring pass to Josh Smith that made the score 7-0 with 3:26 left to play in the first period.
Kingston, however, came right back and drove 80 yards in 10 plays with Mossing hooking up with Szozda on a fourth-and-goal play from the CAK 4.
Andy Spellman added the PAT to tie the score at 7-7 with 10:29 left in the first half.
Jacket FB Coty Groves set up the score with a 55-yard run.
The offensive fireworks continued after the kickoff as the Warriors put together a quick 4-play, 66-yard scoring drive that ended in a 36-yard pass from Epperly to Franklin Murchison that made the score 14-7 with 8:50 left in the first half.
Kingston's second missed chance of the second half came on the ensuing possession.
Starting from their own 20, the Jackets marched 48 yards in seven plays and appeared ready to tie the game again, but a 22-yard completion to Szozda ended in a fumble inside the 10.
This turnover, however, didn't hurt the Jackets as Kingston's defense held then the Jackets got a big break when Cody Akers blocked a punt that gave Kingston the ball at the Warrior 11.
Mossing threw his second scoring pass of the night two plays later when he hooked up with Woody Thompson from seven yards out.
Spellman's PAT knotted the score at 14 with 2:04 left in the first half.
Kingston had the momentum entering the locker room at halftime, but the Warriors quickly took control of the contest in the third period.
Aided by a pass interference penalty, the Warriors opened the second half with an 8-play, 72-yard scoring drive that ended in a 5-yard pass from Epperly to Howell that made the score 21-14 with 9:37 left in the third period.
Field position would be the story for the rest of the quarter as Kingston was unable to pick up a first dow on their next two possessions and they were unable to flip the field thanks to a pair of punts covering 19 and 15 yards.
Kingston held their ground after the first punt, but the Warriors drove 16 yards in three plays after the second punt to take a 28-14 lead with 3:27 left in the third quarter.
CAK's score came on a 5-yard run from Carson Pegram.
Things went from bad to worse for Kingston on their next possession as Colby Maddux picked off a Mossing pass then the Warriors marched 54 yards in four plays to make the score 35-14 with 11:52 left to play.
Epperly capped the drive with a 13-yard pass to Smith.
Kingston's next drive also ended in an interception as High picked off his second pass of the night. Pegram turned the turnover into points seven plays later as he capped a 77-yard drive with a 13-yard run.
Kingston did end the game on a positive note as the Jackets drove 76 yards in six plays with Demarcus Foster finding the end zone from 16 yards out to make the score 42-21 with 4:33 left to play.
Aaron Fielden set up the score with a 38-yard run.
Kingston ended the evening with 335 yards of offense on 53 plays.
The Jackets ran the ball 36 times for 249 yards with Groves (19-126), Foster (8-51- 1 TD) and Fielden (5-52) all finding success.
Mossing added 86 yards through the air.
CAK amassed almost 500 yards on offense as the Warriors ended the night with 488 yards on 64 snaps.
Epperly was superb as he completed 28 of 39 passes for 329 yards with 4 TDs.
Smith (7-100-2 TDs) and Murchison (7-105-1 TD) both had a big night catching the ball.
Friday's loss drops Kingston to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in District 4-AA. The loss also takes away any chance the Jackets had of securing an automatic berth in the district by finishing first or second, but the loss doesn't end Kingston's chances of making the playoffs as they are still alive for a wild card berth.
Kingston can help their chances of making the playoffs Friday night with a victory over Cumberland County or a week 10 victory over Loudon.
“They're all big,” King said of the coming weeks. “We've got a big one with Crossville Friday and another big one with Loudon the next week.”
Rushing- Groves 19-126, Fielden 8-51 with 1 TD, Sams 1-(-2), Fielden 5-52, Thompson 1-(-5), Akers 1-27, Boswell 1-0.
Passing- Mossing 8-17 for 86 yards with 2 TDs and 3 INTs.
Receiving- Szozda 4-44 with 1 TD, Thompson 1-7 with 1 TD, Fielden 1-15, Jones 1-9, Groves 1-11.