Rockwood "picks" off Unaka in first round, 32-6

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By The Staff


Roane Newspapers

For three quarters, the Unaka Rangers gave the Rockwood Tigers all they could handle, but eventually, five Ranger interceptions proved too much to overcome for Unaka as they fell 32-6 to the Tigers.

“We played really sloppy in the first half,” Rockwood head coach John Webb. “We moved the ball well, but we were simply unable to cash in our opportunities early on.”

Unaka started off the game, getting deep in Tiger territory, until Chris Harness picked off a Ranger pass, but Unaka got a lucky break when Harness fumbled the interception, giving the Rangers the ball inside the Tiger 15 yard line.

But once again, the Tigers thwarted the drive with another interception, this one courtesy of Gunnar Mitchell.

The Tigers would then march 92 yards in nine plays with the scoring play coming off of a 41-yard Collin Smith run.

The PAT was no good to leave the score 6-0 with three minutes left in the opening period.

The Rangers then marched 65 yards in nine plays with Josh Peterson finding Chris Beach on a 34-yard touchdown strike.

The two-point try was incomplete and the score was tied at 6-6 with 35.6 seconds to go in the opening quarter.

Rockwood got one play off before the opening quarter came to a close with the score tied at 6-6. The Tigers would pick up where they left off in the second quarter, wrapping up a five-play, 65-yard drive with a Lucas Jolley to Chris Harness 21-yard touchdown strike.

The PAT was no good, and the score was 12-6 with 10:53 to go in the half.

Unaka went three-and-out, punting it back to the Tigers, who had two touchdowns called back on this drive before eventually being picked off deep in Ranger territory.

Unaka would then fail to convert on fourth down, giving the Tigers back the ball. The Tigers, however, turned over the ball back to Unaka, but the Rangers couldn’t capitalize.

Both teams were unable to score before the half, making the score 12-6 at halftime.

The third quarter featured two long drives, but no points.

Rockwood got inside the Unaka five yard line on their opening drive of the second half, but the Tigers couldn’t capitalize. Unaka then had a drive that got into Tigers territory as the third quarter came to a close with the score at 12-6.

Unaka got deep in Tiger territory in the fourth quarter, but Jeff Inman picked off the pass, giving the Tigers the ball.

One play later, Jolley found Travis Beasley on a picture-perfect 56-yard touchdown strike.

The two-point try was no good and with 8:20 to go in the game, the score was now 18-6 in favor of the Tigers.

After an exchange of punts, Unaka would throw a pick-six to Rockwood’s Jeromy Hagermaker for a 29-yard interception return. Jared Breazeale’s PAT was good, making the score 25-6 with 2:20 to go in the game.

Unaka would get the ball back and lightning would strike twice, as this time, it was Chris Harness returning an interception from 40 yards untouched to the end zone for a Tiger touchdown. Breazeale's PAT was good, and with 1:01 to go in the game, the final score would be 32-6 in favor of the Tigers.

Unaka beat Rockwood through the air, 186-138, but Rockwood owned a 262-140 edge in rushing to take the 400-328 advantage in yardage.

Rockwood was led in passing by Jolley (4-11, 138 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) and on the ground by Davey Templeton (12-97),  Inman (14-78), Beasley (8-46), and Smith (2-41-1 TD).

Harness (2-62-1 TD) and Beasley (1-56-1 TD) led the Rockwood receiving corps.

Ian Walls (7 tackles) and Corey Shelton (5 tackles) led the team on defense. Harness (2 INTs), Mitchell (1 INT), Hagermaker (1 INT), and Inman (1 INT) each had picks for the Tiger defense.

Unaka was led in passing by Josh Peterson (12-30, 186 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs) and on the ground by Logan Taylor (11-57). Joseph Wilson (3-81), Frankie Covarrubias (6-48), and Chris Beach (1-34-1 TD) led the Unaka’s receiving corps.

Coming up next week for Rockwood (9-2) is a trip up Highway 27 to face District 4-A Oneida (8-2) in the second round of the TSSAA Class AA Playoffs.