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By GOOSE LINDSAY
The Kingston Yellow Jackets have been playing with fire to start the 2009 football season and Friday night they got burned.
In opening the season with two victories over Harriman and Scott, the Jackets waited until their final snap on offense to score game-winning touchdowns, but there would be no magic at Rockwood as the Tigers scored the game-winning touchdown with 9:34 remaining to pick up a 21-14 victory over their county rivals.
“It feels great. It doesn't happen around here that often,” an elated Rockwood head coach John Webb said of beating the Jackets. “We made some plays tonight; our guys kept battling.”
“We've been living on the edge too much,” Kingston head coach Vic King added. “Rockwood did a good job tonight, especially on that last scoring drive. We're a young team and were going to stub our toe somewhere. Now we just got to keep working and grow up some more.”
Rockwood's defense made the first big play of the game when Cameron Webster picked off Kingston's Kyle Gough on the third play from scrimmage, but the Tigers couldn't turn the pick into points as Rockwood punted the ball away three plays later.
Kingston's second drive was a long one as the Jackets used 17 plays to drive from their own 13 to the Tiger two, but the drive ended there as a fourth down touchdown pass from Gough to Etimlin Phillips was ruled incomplete after Phillips came down out of bounds before gaining possession of the ball.
Gough did complete three of five passes on the drive for 45 yards.
Kingston wouldn't be denied on their next possession as the Jackets drove 66 yards in nine plays with Demarcus Foster scoring on on one yard run.
Andy Spellman added the PAT to give the Jackets a 7-0 lead with 5:18 left in the first half.
Three big plays highlighted the drive with a 37-yard pass from Gough to Phillips being the biggest play, but a fourth down roughing-the-kicker penalty kept the drive alive and a pass interference penalty on Rockwood gave the Jackets a first-and-goal at Rockwood's 10.
Rockwood's offense had just one first down and 34 total yards in their first two possessions, but their third possession went much better as the Tigers were able to tie the game before halftime.
Rockwood's drive started at their own 35 and got off to a good start when FB Jeff Inman converted a fourth down with a three-yard run. Three plays later, QB Chris Harness hooked up with Dillon Deardorff for a 24-yard gain then coach Webb reached into his bag of tricks and called for a halfback pass as backup QB Lucas Jolley completed a 29-yard scoring pass to Travis Beasley.
Jared Breazeale added the PAT to make the score 7-7 with 1:09 left in the first half.
“That's a play we've always had,” Webb said. “Jolley's got a good arm and we just tried to sneak him in the backfield right there.”
Beasley came up with his second big play on Kingston's first possession of the second half as he picked off a pass at the Tiger 49.
From there, the Tigers marched 51 yards in nine plays with Inman scoring on a six-yard run. Inman also converted a fourth down at the 22 with a three-yard run.
Breazeale added the PAT to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead with 3:59 left in the third period.
But like Rockwood in the first half, Kingston answered with a score of their own to tie the game at 14 with 44.9 seconds left in the third period.
The Jackets needed only six plays to cover 63 yards with a 44-yard pass from Gough to Clemons setting the stage for an eight-yard scoring pass to Aaron Fielden.
Rockwood, however, came right back with the biggest drive of the night as Tigers marched 65 yards in seven plays with Deardorff scoring on a five-yard run. Deardorff also had runs of 15 and 14 yards in the drive while Davey Templeton also had a 15-yard run.
Breazeale added his third PAT to give the Tigers a 21-14 lead with 9:34 left in the game.
“You have to give our offensive line a lot of credit,” Webb said. “Kingston did a great job of shutting us down in the first half and we made a lot of adjustments at halftime. Our line made those adjustments and did a great job in the second half.”
After taking the lead it was up to Rockwood's defense to secure the victory and that's just what they did as Kingston had a three-and-out on their next possession.
Kingston started their final possession of the night at their own 36 and moved the ball to the Tiger 44, but a combined sack from Jeromy Hagermaker and Deardorff followed by a fourth down sack by Nate Treadway sealed the deal for the Tigers.
The statistical battle was almost even Friday as the Tigers out gained the Jackets, 222-216.
Rockwood ran the ball 33 times for 145 yards on the night with Deardorff leading the way with 52 yards on eight carries with a touchdown. Harrness added 48 yards passing by completing three of six.
Gough led Kingston's offense with 141 yards through the air as he completed seven of his 15 attempts. Clemons was his No. 1 target with four catches for 86 yards while Cody Groves led the Jackets on the ground with 44 yards on 10 attempts.
Both teams now turn their attention to district play as the Tigers (3-0) host Tellico Plains (3-1) in a District 3-A contest while Kingston (2-1) travels to Stone Memorial (1-3) in a District 4-AA battle.
“Rockwood's always a big game and we hate losing to them, but region games are what counts and that's what we have Friday night,” King said. “We've got to keep getting better and play well Friday.”
“We can celebrate this one for a couple of days, but it really has no bearing on our season,” Webb said. “Come Monday we've got to forget about it and get ready for Tellico Plains. This is a big game for us and we have to have it.”
Rushing- Gough 7-3, Groves 10-44, Foster 7-14 with 1 TD, Fielden 10-19, Team 2-(-5).
Passing- Gough 7-15 for 141 yards with 1 TD and 1 Int.
Receiving- Fielden 1-8 with 1 TD, Phillips 2-47, Clemons 4-86.
Rushing- Inman 14-45 with 1 TD, Templeton 8-50, Deardorff 8-52 with 1 TD, Beasley 1-(-1), Harness 1-2, Team 1-(-3).
Passing- Harness 3-6 for 48 yards, Jolley 1-1 for 29 yards with 1 TD.
Receiving- Hagermaker 2-25, Deardorff 1-23, Beasley 1-19.