Jr. Rangers fall short to Hampton

Published 12:39 am Friday, September 23, 2016


The Unaka Middle School football team may be a million miles from where they use to be, but they were still a few yards short of scoring a victory over Hampton on Thursday night, as the Rangers fell 6-0 to the Bulldogs on Goddard Field.
“Unaka gave us a lot of challenges, and I want to give credit to their staff,” Hampton Middle School coach Alex Payne said. “This team is a million miles ahead of where they were last year and from what I saw they continue to improve. They forced us to make a lot of adjustments throughout the game.”
The lone touchdown for the Bulldogs came when Garrett Vines capped off a 94-yard, 12 play drive with a touchdown from five yards out. Vines was the motor for the Bulldogs offense, as the quarterback tallied 173 yards on 15 carries.
“He has been the motor,” said Payne of his quarterback. “The offense is built around him, although I am proud of the other backs. They were really able to run the ball tonight. A lot of that is because our line can create space for them to operate.”
Ramsey Greenwell finished with nine carries for 89 yards, while Conor Jones gave his team four carries for 27 yards and R.D. Ward contributed seven carries for 32 yards.
For the Rangers, quarterback Will Sexton finished 12-for-25 for 107 yards. But he and his teammates weren’t able to take the ball the length of the field
The Rangers got the ball with 1:10 remaining on the clock, but they weren’t able to take it the 86 yards that they needed to tie the contest or take the lead. But the Rangers opened the drive when Sexton found Daniel Shearl for a 32-yard pickup, but time ran out on Unaka.
“Our kids competed at a high level tonight,” Unaka coach Daniel McInturff said. “For theses kids, it’s the first time that we have been in this situation. And when you get in the situation to beat a good football team like that, you have to execute everything that you do. And down the stretch, I’m not so sure that we were prepared to go the length of the field in the amount of time that we had.
“I am very proud of our kids tonight, and they really competed at a high level tonight.”
The Bulldogs weren’t able to find the end zone in the first half, but it wasn’t by any doing of their own. It was strictly the tough Ranger defense that didn’t allow them to find paydirt. Early in the second quarter, the Ranger defensive front was able to cause a fumble on a 4th down when the Bulldogs were just one yard from scoring.
That defensive intensity continued at the end of the second quarter when Unaka’s Nick Shell ended the first half intercepting a Vines pass.
McInturff said that he really enjoyed the large community support that he saw from the Ranger crowd on Thursday night and he was happy to see them cheer on the 8th-grade homecoming queen Madison Rice.