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Turkey Bowl bound

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By Chris Cannon

ccannon@lafollettepress.com

Rocky Top was a rough place to be this weekend, especially for the Lake City Mavericks 8U team.

Playing in the Battle in Rocky Top, the Mavericks could only manage 6 total yards against a tough Central Kentucky team, as they fell 26-0 in the consolation game.

On the first night of the tournament, Lake City fell 30-0 to the Decatur Central Hawks.

The Hawks eventually lost 12-0 to the Spring Hill Coyotes in the championship game, as the Coyotes swept the tournament. They defeated the Oak Ridge Wildcats 38-6 on their way to the title game.

However, for the Mavericks, this tournament is only a stepping block according to their head coach.

“I think it’s great for the kids,” Lake City head coach Matt Elliott said. “They get better for it. They learn a lot from it, and we learn a lot as coaches. The players are only going to get better playing in big tournaments like this. Next week is another big tournament for us. We got second in it last year, so we’re going up there to win it this year.”

That second place finish came in the 2011 Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl. This year, the Mavericks look to face off with Edgewood Cougars of Ohio.

The game is slated to begin at 9:15 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

To Elliott, this tournament can help them excel in the Gatlinburg games.

“We can learn from our mistakes,” the head coach said. “We’ve got to correct what we didn’t do right. That’s the basics. Watch game film and pick out what we didn’t do.”

For the Mavericks, the defense had some shining moments on Sunday afternoon. Andy King managed five tackles, including three tackles for loss. He accounted for a total of 14 yards of losses to the Bulldogs.

Alexander Baird also had a good closing minutes to the game, as he finished with two tackles that stuffed Central Kentucky for no gain, followed by a fumble recovery.

“They’re good ball players,” Elliott said. “They come from South Clinton, and they want to learn a lot. They want to improve their game. They’ve learned a lot.”

Caleb Osborne was also impressive. Suffering an injury early in the contest that left him sidelined, he later returned in the third quarter. Osborne forced a sack for a loss of seven, which set up a fourth down stop.

“Caleb’s got a lot of heart,” Elliott said. “To get hurt and take a few plays off, then come back in, that shows a kid with a big heart and wants to play. He wants to win. I’m really proud of Caleb.”

Following the sack, Johnathan Paul forced the fumble, which was promptly recovered by Baird.

The Bulldogs scored first on the second play of the game. Darren Eldridge went 59 yards around the left end for the first score of the game. Mason Moore’s two-point conversion pass was complete, but a hard tackle by Peyton Ferguson forced the ball free, leaving the score 6-0 with 8:01 left on the clock.

Following a punt by the Mavericks, Central Kentucky made their run again. A seven-play, 55-yard drive ended as Blake Busson went the 1-yard needed for the score. Moore’s pass fell incomplete, as the score was 12-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Zachary Elliott forced a fumble on the Bulldog’s next drive as Ferguson quickly scooped it up. However, a Lake City fumble on the next play gave the ball back on the Maverick’s 40-yard line. Four plays later, Jack Gohmann connected with Moore from 20 yards out. Gohmann went the distance on the two-point try, making the score 20-0 with 1:23 left in the half.

After Lake City failed to convert on fourth down, Central Kentucky got the ball back in great field position. From then on, it was all Busson, as he used his feet. Five rushing plays resulted in 37 yards, as the last traveled 3 for the score. Ethan Lynn’s pass connected with Harrison Romero, but it was stopped short of the goal line by King, resulting in the final margin, 26-0.