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Sunbright outscores Jellico in District 4 football game

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By The Staff

Three turnovers, two lightning delays totaling an hour and a half, and spotting the visiting team a 6-0 lead couldn’t slow down the Sunbright Tigers on their way to a 38-20 football victory at home over Jellico Friday night.

The Tigers (1-1 in District 4-A, 2-2 overall) enhanced their playoff hopes with the 18-point win over the Blue Devils (0-1 in District 4-A, 1-3 overall) and snapped a two-game losing streak in the process.

“We knew that after the Coalfield loss that it put us behind the eight ball. We knew we had to come ready to play from here on out or we would be pretty much out of the playoff picture,” said Sunbright High School coach Scott Stephens.

Sunbright rolled up 297 yards of offense and forced six turnovers on defense in picking up a pivotal district win.  

Jellico struck first blood when quarterback Devin Oakes hit Ryan Morris for a 21-yard touchdown on a screen pass for a 6-0 lead.

The two team traded turnovers — Sunbright sophomore Timmy Turner intercepted a pass, but the Tigers turned it on the very next play — before the Blue Devils got on the board first.

Sunbright quarterback Jessie England threw his first of two interceptions on the next drive, but Jellico couldn’t capitalize. The Tigers then went 47 yards in seven plays to tie the count at 6-6 with England scoring on a one-yard quarterback sneak late in the first quarter.

“We came out tonight and were a little flat to start with. We gave up a big play to Jellico on a screen pass and they went up on us 6-0 and then the thunder and lightning started and we had to take about an hour break. When we come back out we had the ball at the five or six yard line and we put it in on them and that really got us going,” said Stephens.

Sunbright’s Turner recovered a fumble on Jellico’s next offensive play, and the Tigers turned it into a four-play, 19-yards coring drive. Huseman scored on a six-yard run around right end. Josh Mason scored the two-point run to make it 14-6 with 11:49 left in the second quarter.

Sunbright’s Huseman fell on a loose pigskin on Jellico’s next offensive play. The Tigers then went 22 yards in seven plays with England pounding his way into the end zone on a one-yard run up the gut for a 20-6 advantage with 7:21 left in the first half.

Sunbright’s Isaac Huling picked off a pass to end Jellico’s next drive and that was also turned into points. The Tigers went 67 yards in seven plays with England scoring on a five-yard run to push the lead to 26-6 with 1:34 left until half-time.

Sunbright’s Billy Hunter intercepted a pass late in the half as the Tigers took a 26-6 lead to intermission.

The Blue Devils made a game of it in the third quarter with a pair of touchdowns to narrow the margin to one score.

Jellico cut into the lead early in the third quarter when Morris hit Nathan Overton for a 30-yard touchdown on a halfback pass. Overton added the two-point run to close the gap to 26-14 with 9:20 left in the third quarter.

The two teams traded interceptions — Jellico’s Tyler Brummett and Sunbright’s Huseman each picked off a pass — before the Blue Devils broke through with a big play on special teams to help them get to within striking distance. Jellico blocked a punt and six plays and 22 yards later the Blue Devils scored again with Morris and Overton hooking up for a 16-yard touchdown on another halfback pass. Sunbright’s Ethan Davis recovered a fumble on the two-point try, but the Blue Devils had sliced the lead to 26-20 early in the fourth quarter.

Sunbright came back and strong and answered with an eight-play, 45-yard scoring drive capped by an eight-yard touchdown run by Huseman to push the lead to 32-20 with 5:40 left in the game.

The Tigers put the game away with a seven-play, 56-yard scoring drive late in the game with England hitting Turner for a 48-yard touchdown. Derek Miller missed the extra point, but Sunbright led 38-20 with 56 seconds left in the game.Sunbright’s A.J. Sexton recovered the ensuing kick-off and the Tigers took a knee twice to preserve the 38-20 victory over Jellico.

“All in all, the field was awful and it rained the whole first quarter, but we overcame that. It didn’t affect our passing game or our running game. We done everything that we usually do. Before the break we didn’t execute, and after the break we executed well,” Stephens said.

Sunbright’s 297-yard offensive attack was led by the arm and legs of England (16-28 for 195 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT passing, 14-52, 3 TDs rushing). Turner (9-157, 1 TD) had a career-night catching the football. Mason (15-30) and Huseman (6-24, 2 TD) helped the Tigers to 102 rushing yards. Mason hauled in four catches for 28 yards.

“We had some bad running plays tonight, but we had a lot of good running plays. Josh Mason ran his hind end off. He ran for big yards when we needed them, and he busted some big plays up the middle. If it hadn’t been for the negative rushing plays where we didn’t make the block where they blitzed us, he would have had close to a 100 yards rushing tonight, which is impressive out of the spread,” said Stephens.

“We actually caught the ball tonight. Two weeks ago against Coalfield we were around 25 percent completion. We didn’t have a lot of kids dropping balls tonight and that makes a big difference.”

Jellico was paced on offense by the all-around play of Morris (13-91 rushing, 2-2 for 46 yards, 2 TDs passing, 1 TD receiving). Overton (5-56, 2 TDs) was the leading receiver for the Blue Devils.

“Hands down, Timmy Turner had eight or nine catches and one was a touchdown. He had a fumble recovery and an interception. He was definitely the player of the game,” said Stephens.

Jellico is scheduled to host Harriman tomorrow (Fri.) night for a District 4 game, while Sunbright will travel to Red Boiling Springs.