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Jackets tame Bobcats in last regional matchup

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Coalfield stays in second with win over Oliver Springs

By The Staff

The Coalfield Yellow Jackets met rival Oliver Springs for the first time in three years at D.J. Brittan Field and left Roane County Friday night with a hard earned 41-21 win.

“You know it would be a big game, an emotional game,” Jacket Coach Keith Henry said, “and it’s a big rivalry game.

“The communities are only five miles apart, we hadn’t played in three years and the game had playoff implications.

“Whoever won the game would be second in the region and have a home playoff game.”

After the last Coalfield touchdown in the first half, a 10-yard strike from quarterback Parker McKinney to Drake Miklas that made the score 20-0 the Jackets looked to have the Bobcats on the ropes with 49 second left before halftime.

Oliver Springs didn’t get that memo.

Starting on their 19-yard line, the Bobcats tried a little bit of trickery with a halfback pass by Mason Hill, but it fell incomplete. Hill followed with an eight-yard run around the end.

Quarterback Blake Crass stayed perfect on the next play by finding Sean Ross for a 13-yard pass. On the next play, Crass moved Oliver Springs a little closer with a three-yard keeper.

Although the offensive flurry by the Bobcats moved the ball, they were still on the wrong side of the 50-yard line with very little time left on the clock.

“Coach (Larry) Green had them on a roll,” Henry said, “they’d won three in a row and were doing a great job.

“Oliver Springs was ready to go tonight. It was a good classic, physical ball game.”

Crass took the snap and hit Hill in the flat for a pass. 

Hill ran through the Coalfield defense and cut up the field on the sideline and raced 60 yards to the end zone as time expired. Following the point after kick by Zach Brooks, the score was 20-7 and Oliver Springs showed it wasn’t going to go away easy.

When the teams went into the locker rooms, the stats were actually pretty close.

Crass was a perfect five-for-five with 98 yards while McKinney had 119 yards passing on nine-of-10 attempts. 

In the rushing game, Oliver Springs had 36 yards and Coalfield had 68 yards.

The Bobcats didn’t miss a beat when the third frame started.

Taking over on their 28, the Oliver Springs offense chewed eight minutes off the clock thanks to a 14-play drive that was highlighted by big power runs from Landen Everett who ran through and over the Jackets’ defense. Everett capped the drive by barreling into the end zone for a six-yard touchdown making the score 20-14.

Coalfield countered when Tyler Keathley sealed a short drive with a three-yard run into the end zone, putting score at 28-14.

Although the touchdown gave the Jackets a two-score cushion, there was still a feel of anyone’s ball game. 

That was until the end of the third stanza. A short pass by Crass was misplayed by the receiver and the ball flipped into the air. 

Coalfield defender Lance Byrd snatched it out of the air for an interception and returned it eight yards before being brought down.

The turnover gave the Jackets an advantage going into the final quarter and they took advantage. 

“That was a good play defensively for us,” Henry said, “and it gave us a short field in which to score.

“That was a big turning point.”

Coalfield scored two unanswered touchdowns in the frame. The first was a 16-yard run by Keathley. 

The second came when Jacob Coker fell on a fumbled punt attempt in the end zone a few moments later, making the score 41-14.

Even with the momentum going against them, the fight hadn’t completely left the Bobcats.

Starting on their 45-yard line, Everett got the drive going with an 11-yard rumble up the middle.

Ross followed with a 25-yard sweep and Hill finished up the drive by taking the ball on a sweep, to the opposite direction for a 23-yard scamper to pay dirt.

The closeness in stats persisted throughout the game. 

By the time of the contest’s conclusion, the Jackets had only tallied 128 passing yards compared to Oliver Springs’ 110 yards. The Bobcats outgained Coalfield on the ground 170 yards to 159. 

“We’ve been banged up,” Henry said. “We were trying not to get anybody hurt.

“Anytime you can come to Oliver Springs and leave their field with a win, that’s a great thing.”

With the number two spot in the region decided, Coalfield will finish out the regular season Friday with a non-region home game against the Oneida Indians. 

“Oneida is well coached,” Henry said. “They play great defense and it will be a really tough, physical ball game.

“We’ve had some great games over the years and it will be our last home game and senior night.”