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Rangers erupt in opener against North Greene, 42-0

BY AUSTIN ALEXANDER
STAR CORRESPONDENT
BAILEYTON – Excitement was in the air in Baileyton on Friday night as it was that time again to get another high school football season kicked off. The Unaka Rangers and tenured head coach O’Brien Bennett have a different pep in their step this season and it was apparent from the moment the team took the field.

What was supposed to be one of the best games of Week 1 turned into an outright beat down as the Rangers were having none of it from the jump taking the early victory, 42-0.

The Rangers won the toss and elected to defer to the second half giving North Greene the ball to start the game. The Huskies started their drive with a loss as Ryan Peters rocked North Greene quarterback, Tanner Sexton. This helped spur a quick three and out for the Ranger defense.

The Ranger offense would then jog on the field for their first possession of the 2021 season led by junior Quarterback Landon Ramsey starting his third consecutive season.

Ramsey did not disappoint in any way. A couple of early runs to Jamal Blamo mixed with some incomplete passes set them up in an unfavorable 4th and 12.

For most teams, this is panic time, but for Unaka it’s go time. Landon Ramsey would find his big brother Devin Ramsey for the first of a plethora of touchdowns.

Despite some solid runs from North Greene’s Tyler Sanches, the next Husky drive met the same fate as the first as the drive would quickly fizzle out and a punt ensued.

An air raid approach from Unaka would prevail in the second drive as Ramsey connected to Ramsey for 10 yards and then Ramsey found Takoda Freeman for another 51 yards.

The drive would hit a snag, however, and the Rangers would turn the ball over on downs.

It didn’t matter though, because the Unaka defense came to play. The Rangers would force a three and out and the punt went awry and Unaka would start with an excellent field position.

A two-play drive capped by another Ramsey to Ramsey 15-yard connection was the next result for the Rangers who looked flat-out unstoppable on offense.

The next North Greene drive got just two plays in when the big man, Brayden Powell, did his best Odell Beckham impression and made an exceptional one-handed interception.

After the pick, the Rangers had wonderful field position and Jamol Blamo just needed one run to punch it from 19 yards out. A Landon Ramsey two-point conversion made the score 20-0 in the first quarter.

North Greene couldn’t buy a break as they could hardly find a first down much less score during the first half as a combination of self-inflicted wounds doomed them from the start.

Ramsey would avoid a sack early until the second quarter and then find, you guessed it, his brother Devin for a 75-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead.

The next possession was an immediate one play – Ramsey to Freeman for 58 yards and a score and at this point, all the wind had been taken out of Baileyton.

Blamo would punch the next possession in from 80 yards out just before the end of the half and the game was essentially over at that point.

In the second half, neither team pushed the envelope too much passing and running without much risk and the two teams traded possession after possession as the running clock melted away second after second until the final horn sounded and Unaka had claimed a massive 42-0 victory to start the season 1-0.

The Rangers looked seriously good and prepared to contend for a region title.

The Ramsey brothers were lights out and Freeman, Blamo, and Caleb Lydick provide the explosiveness to beat anyone. The big men up front handled their business with little problems while the defense was fantastic only allowing a few big runs and no deep passes.