Little things, commitment slow Jellico

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Bobcats take homecoming after close first quarter

By Chris Cannon

Coming out of the first quarter on Friday night, it looked like Jellico was in fine shape, trailing only 14-8.

However, with three minutes left in the second quarter, those little mistakes became the big talk for the Blue Devils, as they fell 55-8.

Josh Lay, who returned it to the Bobcat 26-yard line, stripped Oliver Spring’s Shawn Childress of the ball. On Jellico’s next play, they gave it back to the Bobcats.

Drew Bruce, who was immediately hit by Shelby Morgan, caught Ryan Payne’s pass. Morgan stripped the ball, and Jellico’s momentum, as Oliver Springs would use the drive for a 27-8 advantage before the half.

“That’s the story of our year,” head coach Brad Lawson said. “Turnovers have gotten us. We can create some on defense, but we usually turn right around and give it right back to them. Those small mistakes.”

For Jellico, it was the Austin Bowlin and Payne show. Combining for 27 carries for 80 yards, as well as three-of-four for 53 yards through the air, the two seniors have become proven leaders for the Blue Devils.

To Bowlin, that play was a downer for the whole team.

“It really hurt momentum, but it hurts our pride a little bit,” he said. “It gets our head down. If we keep our heads up, we might get a win this year.”

For Jellico, that win is needed. The loss to the Bobcats makes the record 17-straight.

However, a commitment problem is what the coaches are seeing right now. During Tuesday’s practice before the homecoming match-up, only three linemen showed up to practice.

“People have got to come to practice,” Payne said. “There are only a few of us that have come all year. A lot of missed at least a day, if not a week. We’ve just got to get more commitment.”

To Lawson, it’s hard to move his team in the direction he wants with so few players showing up.

“It’s very difficult,” Lawson said. “It’s difficult to move forward. There’s been days, like coach said, where we’ve just had to scratch our whole schedule. That’s tough when you’re trying to move forward. That’s what we’re trying to do, is move forward.”

Oliver Springs got things started early. A 66-yard kickoff return by Austin West put the Bobcats on the Jellico 27-yard line. Two plays later, Eddie Stephenson took it the 14 yards needed for a 7-0 advantage.

However, Jellico had an answer, gaining a first down before ever running a play. Using their false call, the Bobcats jumped off sides two times to start the drive, a total of four times on the drive.

The eight-play, 66-yard drive was capped with Payne connecting with Lay from 27 yards out on fourth down. Lay made the fingertip catch, which was followed by Bowlin taking in the two-point conversion. With 6:51 left in the first, Jellico led 8-7.

Tyler Stombaugh quickly swallowed up the Blue Devil’s onside kick. In two plays, Childress took the ball 45 yards, the last rush being from 18 yards out for a 14-8 Bobcat lead with 6:28 remaining.

With 9:07 left in the second quarter, Oliver Springs struck again. The four-play, 40-yard drive was capped with Stephenson took the ball 1 yard for the 21-8 lead.

Following the double fumble, the Bobcats marched 93 yards on eight plays. John Simms pulled down Childress’ pass from 4 yards out. Steven Westphall’s kick was no good, leaving the score 27-8 before the half.

On the Bobcat’s first drive of the second half, they found paydirt. Austin West took the ball 9 yards to cap off the 51-yard drive. Oliver Springs led 34-8 with 7:45 left in the third.

Dakota Miles, who returned the ball 32 yards for the score, recovered a fumbled snap. With 6:10 left in the third, the Bobcats led 41-8.

A 37-yard score by Stephenson with 2:46 left in the third, and a 6-yard jaunt by Derrick Tinker with 9:11 in the fourth made the final score, 55-8 in favor of the Bobcats.