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Triple option, triple the problems as Unaka falls at home 46-6

BY AUSTIN ALEXANDER
STAR CORRESPONDENT 
STONEY CREEK- Football was in the air on Friday night as the boys from Stoney Creek were ready to host their first game of the 2020 season as they welcomed in the Bulldogs of Claiborne.
Two divisions below Claiborne, the Rangers always knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but as the game went on that hill just kept getting steeper. Despite a solid effort, the Rangers would fall 46-6.
It was a slow start from the Rangers offense as the only positive movement they saw was charity from the opposing sideline. But not even a plethora of good fortune could bail out Unaka on the opening drive as it would ultimately stall out just over the 50.
Claiborne took over with a fire in them. The Bulldogs triple-option attack hit the Rangers from every side and beat them back into their own 5 before Storm Livesay would punch in a short dive for the first score of the game.
After a failed PAT the Rangers took back over with the hope to better their first drive. A nine-yard completion from Landon Ramsey to Devin Ramsey looked like a promising spark, but a false start would stunt the drive and Unaka would once again have to punt after a three and out.
A couple of Bulldog mistakes upfront helped set up a third and long and the Rangers defense held strong forcing a Claiborne punt.
Back in business, the Rangers still couldn’t force their hands on offense trying on the ground and through the air. After a three and out, the Bulldogs took over and went back to gashing the Rangers on the ground pounding their way down the field before Livesay would find the end zone for the second time on the night making the score 13-0.
The ensuing kickoff saw a big return from Daniel Shearl and the Rangers looked primed to finally get on the scoreboard. An 11-yard connection from Ramsey to Ramsey once again looked to be the catalyst to a big drive, but the Bulldogs once again beat back and Unaka couldn’t find the answer turning it over on downs.
The ground game would continue for the Bulldogs and Claiborne would push back the Rangers on a 6 play 50-yard drive with Eli Stone ultimately punching the ball in for Claiborne and making it 20-0.
Yet another three and out for Unaka gave Claiborne the ball back and the Rangers looked dead in the water.
Then, from absolutely nothing, an interception from Shearl brought new life into the Rangers.
The magic connection of Ramsey to Ramsey was good for a 41 yard gain and set Unaka up in the red zone. Two plays later Ramsey would find Shearl for 15 yards and the first Rangers score of the game.
With just four seconds left in the half, the Rangers got caught napping as Stone would find Isaac Lester for a massive 40-yard touchdown as time expired in the half and Unaka trailed 27-6 at the break.
Coming out of the break the Rangers looked gassed and the triple-option attack was just too much for the smaller school as Claiborne came out of the gates with much of the same from the first half.
The Unaka offense couldn’t find a break anywhere and heading into the 4th quarter, the Rangers trailed 39-6.
The fourth quarter wasn’t much more than a formality as the two teams traded a few possessions and ran down the clock to zeros. Drew Smith found some big runs for the Rangers, but the final score came from a strip and score for the Bulldogs, and the game finished 46-6.
Always the underdog in the game, Unaka just couldn’t find it on offense and their defense had little to say about the opposing offense.
The loss drops the Rangers to 1-1 on the season. Next week the Rangers play host to Jellico in a big conference matchup.