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By NICK WILLIAMS
The Harriman Middle School Blue Devils and Spring City Bulldogs battled last week for the regular season district title, and this game was a glimpse as to what is to come next Thursday when the two teams meet again for the Clinch Valley Conference Class AA Championship. On this night, Harriman got the best of the Bulldogs, winning by a final score of 20-6.
The Blue Devils opened the game on offense and drove right down the field with running backs J.T. Phipps and Jo Jo Luna leading the way. Phipps broke free for a 20-yard run, capping the 56-yard scoring drive and putting the Blue Devils on top 8-0.
Spring City started their opening possession on their own 35. The Bulldogs started out hot moving the ball on the Harriman defense, but the drive stalled with a fumble at mid-field.
Harriman appeared ready to capitalize on the turnover, but on the first play of the second quarter, Phipps fumbled the ball and Spring City recovered on their own 23.
A big sack by Luna and another Phipps fumble led to the trading back and forth of offensive possessions for the Blue Devils and Bulldogs.
With 26 seconds left in the second quarter, however, Luna scored on a 52-yard reverse, stretching the lead to 14.
Harriman, ready to take their 14-point lead to the locker room, got a bit lazy on defense and the Bulldog offense took advantage. The Bulldogs connected with a 28-yard pass to Tyler Caraway down to the Harriman 13. With the first half winding down Spring City dropped back to pass again, but the Blue Devil defense pressured the throw and it fell incomplete to end the half with Harriman holding the 14-0 lead.
The second half started with Spring City getting the ball, but both defenses stepped up, leading to little offensive production. However, Spring City hit a big pass to Chase Horton to end the third quarter.
Spring City took advantage of some Harriman mistakes to continue taking the ball down the field and setting up a one-yard touchdown closing the gap to 14-6.
Spring City went for an onside kick and recovered due to Harriman letting the ball bounce around.
The Blue Devils, however, held Spring City to a fourth-and-one then Harriman stepped up on the biggest play of the game and held the Bulldogs.
Harriman then delivered the knockout blow, as with 3:28 left in the game, Luna took the ball down the left sideline for a 50-yard touchdown, putting Harriman up by the final score of 20-6.
Phipps finished the game with 112 yards on nine carries with one touchdown. Luna added 127 yards on just six carries and two touchdowns. The Harriman ground game rolled up 239 yards on offense in the regular season championship win.
These two teams will meet again next Thursday, Oct. 11 for the Clinch Valley Class AA Championship. And thanks to Thursday’s victory, the Blue Devils will enjoy home field advantage next week.
However, before the Blue Devils can gear up for that rematch, they must take on Clinton this Thursday at 7 p.m. at Wallace Black Field.