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Sweetwater knocks off Kingston, 31-28

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By Brody Jones

 

An emotional week came to a disappointing end Friday night as Kingston dropped a 31-28 decision at home against Sweetwater.

Kingston was hoping to win their first game of the season against the Wildcats as a tribute to sophomore Seth Haynes, who suffered a broken neck in last week’s game at Sequoyah.

“It was a tough, emotional loss tonight,” a deflated Kingston head coach Brian Pankey said. “I hate it for our kids, especially our seniors. They played hard and fought hard, but we just made some crucial mistakes at the end and just didn’t get it done tonight.” 

The outcome of the game was rendered irrelevant before kickoff when Haynes, the fallen Yellow Jacket player walked onto the field tonight in the pregame festivities and received a genuine outpouring of admiration and respect from the sold out crowd at Dr. Nat Sugarman Field with a standing ovation and even the strongest of men wept at the miracle before them. 

“It was pretty emotional to see Seth walk out on that field before kickoff,” Pankey said. “I even got choked up seeing him, bringing tears to my eyes. He’s a good kid and the outpouring of support for him the last seven days has been amazing and it was more amazing to see him come out to support his team.” 

After holding Sweetwater to a missed field goal to start the game, the Jackets cut a path to the end zone, marching 80 yards in three plays with Paul Bolden, sporting Haynes’ No. 10 jersey, passing 45 yards to Maurice Lane for the score.

The PAT by Gabe Shillings was good, making the score 7-0 with 6:45 left in the first quarter. 

The score remained 7-0 until Sweetwater’s Sammy Baker knocked in a 23-yard field goal with 7:28 left in the half to make the score 7-3.

The Jackets responded with a seven-play, 63-yard drive capped off with a Bolden to Preston Edmonds 19-yard touchdown strike, making the score 14-3 with 3:49 left in the half. 

Kingston would pick off an errant Wildcat pass and get prime real estate to start their next drive on the Wildcat 27 yard line. 

Kingston then needed seven plays before Dustin Kitts scored from three yards out to make it 21-3 with 29.4 seconds left in the opening half. 

Just as the Jacket Nation thought it was safe to take a three score lead to the locker room, Ashaunde Thaxton took exception to that idea with a 91-yard kickoff return for a Sweetwater touchdown to make the score 21-10 at halftime.

The Jackets chewed up the clock to start the second half, driving 63 yards in nine plays, scoring on a six-yard touchdown run by Rhett Jones, making the score 28-10 with 6:38 left in the third quarter. 

But Sweetwater’s Mackenzie Hansen answered with a 92-yard touchdown 16 seconds later to cut the lead to 28-17.

The game suddenly turned defensive as several punts followed by an Edmonds interception allowed the Jackets to hold on to the 11-point lead.

But then the Jackets fumbled on their own 17 and Sweetwater scored four plays later on a three-yard run from Hansen to make the score 28-23 with  6:25 left in the game.

After a three-and-out, it took Sweetwater eight plays to cover 70 yards and score on a Hansen six-yard run. 

The two-point Jonathan Taylor play was good to make the score 31-28 in favor of the Wildcats with 1:28 left in the game. 

Kingston, however, went into its bag of tricks and came up with a big play. Lane pitched the ball back to Bolden who found a wide open Bret Plemens, who made a 59-yard reception down to the Sweetwater one yard line. 

Kingston had four downs to get the ball into the end zone, but on fourth down, when Bolden’s passed sailed over the head of the Kingston receiver, the collective hearts of the Jacket faithful were broken and the Wildcats were in blissful euphoria as they ran the clock out to preserve the 31-28 win.

“I still would have gone for the touchdown on fourth down,” Coach Pankey reflected after the game. “I asked the kids what they wanted to do and they wanted to punch it in and when your kids have that kind of confidence, then you have confidence in them.”  

Kingston was led by the arm of Bolden (10-17, 202 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT), the rushing of Lane (9-50), Jones (13-42, 1 TD) and Preston Edmonds (3-37). 

Plemens (2-72), Cody Mitchell (3-50) and Lane (2-42, 1 TD)  were the leading receivers while Kitts (9 tackles), Zach Redden (6 tackles, 3 TFL), Bryson Ashford (5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT) and Parker Johnson (5 tackles) led the defense for the Jackets. 

Next up for the Jackets is the Christian Academy of Knoxville Warriors Friday night. 

“They’re a tough team with a complex offense and hard to defend,” Pankey said. “We have to expect a lot of passing next Friday night.”

Kingston Statistics

Rushing- Lane 9-50, Jones 13-42 with 1 TD, Bolden 5-20, Davis 3-3, Kitts 2-(-6) with 1 TD, Edmonds 3-37. 

Passing- Bolden 10-17 for 202 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.

Receiving- Plemens 2-72, Mitchell 3-50, Lane 2-42 with 1 TD, Edmonds 1-19 with 1 TD, Jones 2-19.