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Jackets fall to Geenback in Class A Quarterfinal

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By Taylor Crombie

The Yellow Jackets faced adversity from their first drive on in the Class A Quarterfinal against Greenback.

Despite battling through setbacks the entire game, Coalfield fell 56-34 to the Cherokees to end its 2017 playoff run.

The Jackets started the game with a promising drive, beginning with a 19-yard kickoff return by Seth Lowe. Coalfield quickly made it into Cherokee territory after a pair of 6-yard passes from Parker McKinney to Peyton McKinney and a 12-yard quarterback keeper.

The senior quarterback connected with Ashton Jones on the 10-yard line to put the Jackets in the red zone, but Jones fumbled and Greenback recovered.

The defense did not mess around in the next series and only allowed the Cherokees to gain two yards in four plays to quickly get the ball back to the Jackets’ offense.

Coalfield’s offense played with that same sense of urgency on the next drive. McKinney ran 11 yards to give the Jackets a first down on Greenback’s 36, then tossed a 9-yard pass to Drake Miklas. McKinney dashed 8yards on the next play to give Coalfield another first down on the 19-yard line.

Michael Lowe caught a short pass from McKinney, putting the Jackets on the Cherokee 6-yard line after a personal foul on Greenback. Tyler Keathley moved the Jackets up four more yards before McKinney finished the drive off with a 2-yard touchdown rush. Wyatt Withrow’s PAT kick was no good, but Coalfield had struck first and held a 6-0 lead.

The Cherokees wasted no time answering and scored three plays later on a 69-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Hanley to Cole Riddle. Creed Ramsey’s PAT was good, giving Greenback a 7-6 lead.

McKinney threw 42-yard pass to Peyton McKinney to start another strong drive for Coalfield before the Jackets were dealt their next big blow.

Greenback’s Hanley and Tyler Kuhn sacked McKinney five yards behind the line of scrimmage two plays later, injuring his ankle in the process.

The senior quarterback remained in the game, but wasn’t the dual threat that he usually is and only rushed for two more yards the rest of the night.

Jones ended up carrying in the touchdown on that drive, then McKinney connected with Drake Miklas for the 2-point conversion to put the Jackets up 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Greenback pulled ahead by two touchdowns in the second quarter and despite making a couple of big plays, including a 35-yard reception by Miklas, the Jackets were unable to reach the end zone again before the end of the first half.

The Cherokees opened the second half with a 46-yard touchdown, but the Yellow Jackets regained that sense of urgency that had in the first half on their next drive.

Lowe turned a pass from McKinney into a 20-yard gain and a big first down for Coalfield. He came in clutch when the Jackets were face with third-and-2 two plays later and picked up another first down with a 5-yard reception.

Jones ended up finishing off that drive with another rushing touchdown to cut Greenback’s lead down to 28-20.

Greenback was still running on the momentum it had picked up in the second quarter, though, and answered with another touchdown.

Jones capped off another big series for Coalfield with his third rushing touchdown of the game, but the Jackets were unable to pull off the 2-point conversion. The Cherokees scored once more before the end of the third quarter, bringing the score to 42-26 Greenback.

Coalfield scored one more time in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard pass from Parker to Peyton McKinney and Jones ran in the 2-point conversion. The Cherokees were in control of the game at that point, though, and scored two more touchdowns to bring the final 56-34 Greenback.

McKinney finished the game 313 yards passing despite playing through an injury for the majority of the game.

“He’s one in a lifetime,” Coalfield head coach Keith Henry said of his senior quarterback. “In these past few years he’s been a blessing and such a great young man to be around. He’s a great leader and you got to see his toughness tonight. Staying in the game offensively, trying run our offense and keep putting points on the board.”

Lowe led the team with 184 yards receiving on 12 catches, while Jones finished the game with 61 total yards and three touchdowns.

While it was a disappointing end to the season and four years for Coalfield’s senior who made it to the state championship their freshman year, the 2017 Yellow Jackets still have plenty to proud of. They finished year 11-2 and outscored their opponents 606-187 while averaging 50.5 points per game. Parker McKinney was also named a finalist for the Tennessee Titans’ Mr. Football Award last week.

“I love these seniors; I’m proud of them and this whole football team,” Henry said. “These seniors have been a great bunch and I was hoping to make it one more week with them.”