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Junior Cyclones take ‘controversial’ win over Liberty Bell

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
STAR CORRESPONDENT
JOHNSON CITY – All-purpose eighth-grader Jeriah Griffin rushed for 144 yards and scored three touchdowns as T.A. Dugger took a tough 28-20 road win over Liberty Bell on Thursday at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
The controversy involved an inadvertent whistle that wiped out a scintillating 101-yard interception return by Jordan Clark which would have pulled Liberty Bell to within a touchdown of the Junior Cyclones with well over two minutes remaining.
The Cyclones (2-0) opened with the ball at the 44-yard line but penalties killed that drive and the Patriots took possession at the 38-yard line.
That drive ended with a fumble recovered by the Cyclones and they took over at the 47-yard line.
TAD drove 53 yards on 11 plays with seventh-grader Jaiden Wallin scoring from a yard out and when coupled with the point after kick from Caleb Campbell made it a 7-0 Cyclones lead.
An interception from Campbell killed another Patriots drive and with TAD set back to the 30-yard line Griffin took a handoff and took off over the right side and raced 70 yards for the touchdown that made it a 14-0 contest after Campbell’s PAT.
“That’s a total team effort and Jeriah knows that he can’t do it without the 10 other guys on the field,” Jr. Cyclones head coach Brock Pittman said. “We preach team, been preaching it all week, and we played great team defense for the most part.
“I think we kind of lost it a little bit later in the game. We had guys where they weren’t supposed to be because of the situation. We knew they would have to take some shots.”
That score held up through halftime but Liberty Bell turned the tables on TAD early in the third quarter when Zane Huff picked off a pass from quarterback Rhett Slagle and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown that cut the TAD lead to 14-7.
On TAD’s next possession Slagle made up for his error by hitting Griffin on a 57-yard scoring strike. The PAT failed so the score remained 20-7.
Adam Williams collected the second interception of the game for TAD and Griffin capped five-play 55 yard drive with a 46-yard scamper for his third touchdown of the contest.
Slagle found Griffin with a two-point pass for a 28-7 Cyclones lead with 1:36 remaining in the third period. Early in the fourth quarter Brayden Letcher scored on a two-yard run to cap off a seven-play drive and make it a 28-14 contest.
A pair of penalties ruined the Cyclones’ next possession and they were forced to punt.
Liberty Bell then turned the ball over but TAD was unable to capitalize and almost paid dearly as Slagle launched a long pass down the sideline that was intercepted by Clark who sprinted from the visiting sideline to the home sideline and turned the corner near midfield and no one touched him but a whistle had apparently blown halting the play at the 20-yard line.
The Patriots did eventually cash in the touchdown moving 80 yards on nine plays with Famoyin scoring on a seven-yard run for the final score on the game.
“We had some guys out of place but we’ll watch the film and fix that,” Pittman said. “That’s a good football team over there and we had some things that didn’t go our way but we overcame it.”
T.A. Dugger 28-20
TA Dugger 7 7 14 0 – 28
Liberty Bell 0 0 7 13 – 20
Scoring summary
First Quarter
T – Wallin 1 run (Campbell kick) 4:21
Second Quarter
T – Griffin 70 run (Campbell kick) 2:42
Third Quarter
L – Huff 69 interception return (kick good) 5:15
T – Griffin 57 pass from Slagle (kick failed) 4:25
T – Griffin 46 run (Slagle pass to Griffin) 1:36
Fourth Quarter
L – Famoyin 7 run (kick failed) :50.9