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Two Jellico QBs injured in 30-0 loss to Hancock

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By Robby O'Daniel

Two quarterbacks got knocked out of the game for Jellico, and not much was going right for the Blue Devils, as Hancock County picked up a key 30-0 region win at Jellico High School last Friday night.

“I mean, what can you say?” Jellico High School interim head football coach Johnny Massengale said. “The game got out of hand when on the third play, my quarterback [Noah Smith] took a helmet to the hip, and he was incapacitated. He tried, but he just couldn’t go anymore. And then I bring in my backup quarterback [Kade Evans], who was cleared from a previous injury today, and he reinjured it. So it’s one of those things. We were handcuffed when Noah Smith went down.”

The injury to Smith happened early in the second quarter on Jellico’s second offensive possession. After Evans was injured too, the Blue Devils then turned to running back Noah Albertini as quarterback.

“It changes everything,” Massengale said. “I mean we practiced it for something like that, but when you have inexperience at that position, you’re really, really limited. You can’t overcome a 12 or 18-point to nothing deficit with no experience at quarterback.”

Hancock County dominated the time of possession early. After Jellico won the opening coin toss and deferred, the Indians ran the ball and picked up large chunks of yardage on their opening drive.

The Indians got the ball within the Jellico 10, but holding penalties backed up Hancock County to a second-and-goal play from the Jellico 33.

The Blue Devils were lucky when a wide-open Hancock receiver was overthrown on that play. After a screen pass to the Jellico 20 on third down, Hancock would have an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal from the Jellico 20, turning the ball over on downs with just 3:21 to go in the opening frame.

After Jellico quickly went three-and-out and punted on fourth-and-2 at the Jellico 28, Hancock got the ball back with 1:35 left in the first. The Jellico punt was short, so Hancock started at the Jellico 43.

The Indians again encountered penalties, facing a first-and-20 at the Jellico 33, but Hancock County scored to take a 6-0 lead on a 2-yard rushing TD with 11:43 to go in the first half.

The Blue Devils started their next possession at their own 41, and this was when Smith was injured and helped to the sideline by coaches.

Jellico punted, but on the punt, a Hancock player touched the ball — and Jellico recovered at the Hancock County 40-yard line.

Jellico would have to punt again, this time on a fourth-and-25 at the Hancock County 35-yard line, and this time, the punt hit the back of a Hancock County player. Jellico recovered the ricochet and had the ball back again at the Jellico 49-yard line.

Jellico wide receiver Jerney Ivey was wide open down the field, but Evans overthrew him in a costly play.

Jellico would punt on a fourth-and-14 play at the Jellico 44. The ball was downed at the Hancock County 25-yard line, and after forcing three straight punts, Hancock County finally had the ball back with 5:06 to go in the first half.

After a failed reverse and a fumble, Hancock County faced third-and-30 at its own 38-yard line. A late hit from Jellico gave Hancock County an untimed down before halftime, but the rush was stuffed.

Hancock County led 6-0 at the half.

Hancock County’s defense had three interceptions in the second half: one off Evans and two off Albertini.

Neither Smith (hip), nor Evans (thigh) will be able to play at Cumberland Gap on Friday night, Massengale said.

“Jacob Reynolds reinjured his foot, out indefinitely,” Massengale said.

Hancock County likely will host a playoff game after its win last Friday, while Jellico will likely have to go on the road in the postseason’s first round.

Hancock County improved to 2-1 in the region, while Jellico is 1-1 now. Cloudland defeated Hancock County earlier this season, and Cloudland is 2-0 in the region. Unaka is 0-3.

If Jellico upsets Cloudland, that would lead to a three-way tie at 2-1. If one team hasn’t defeated the other two teams in a three-way tiebreaker, then the first tiebreaker in a three-way tie is overall wins. Cloudland (5-1) is likely to end up with the most wins out of the trio over Jellico (1-5) and Hancock County (3-4).

Ultimately Jellico has to defeat Cloudland (ranked No. 6 in Tennessee Class 1A football, according to the latest Associated Press poll) on Oct. 12 and then hope for help to host a playoff game.