Unaka goal line stand stops Claiborne

Published 12:25 am Saturday, October 9, 2021

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
STAR CORRESPONDENT
A 30-minute delay to the start of senior night at Goddard Field due to inclement weather saw things clear up at the kickoff. The Rangers were able to survive the conditions and stave off defeat with a goal-line stand and hold on for a 14-12 non-conference win.
“Playmakers make plays and we made the one that counted,” Rangers head coach O’Brien Bennett said. “We struggled offensively and couldn’t do anything. We put it in the hands of our weight room kids and just put the ball in Landon’s hands and just ran it. He’s a big, strong kid and there was nothing fancy about it.”
Claiborne (0-6) dominated the time of possession in the first quarter but had nothing to show for a 20-play, 76-yard drive that died at the Unaka 13 yard line. On the Rangers second possession Unaka fumbled and Bulldog safety Tyrell Miles returned the gift 15 yards to paydirt and a 6-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs returned the favor on their next possession and the Rangers recovered on the seven-yard line. From there, junior quarterback Landon Ramsey took it in on a draw play and he also took in the two-point run for an 8-6 Unaka lead.
Taking over at midfield, the Bulldogs scored on a 12-play drive that saw Josh Bolton take it in from three yards out to give Claiborne a 12-8 lead at the break. Hampered by a wet ball, Ramsey completed just 3-of-12 passes and saw his last seven passes fall harmlessly to the turf.
The third quarter belonged to Claiborne but once again they piled up the yards and kept the ball for a long stretch but came away empty as the third quarter came to an end. The Bulldogs got the ball in the fourth period but failed to make a fourth and six and turned it over on downs at their own 35-yard line.
A pass interference penalty on a fourth-down pass gave the Rangers a first down at the Bulldogs 18 yard line and a six-yard carry from Jamol Blamo gave Unaka a first down at the 12-yard line. Ramsey carried the ball on three consecutive plays – with the last one good for three yards and a touchdown.
“That was our plan,” Ramsey said. “After halftime, we weren’t taking any chances and Jamol made a major play to help us win and we are just trying to stay hot.”
For Claiborne, Murrell rushed 19 times for 80 yards and Josh Bolton rushed 13 times for 41 yards but the play of the game came with just under 20 seconds left when Landon Wilson tried a quarterback keeper around the right end and Blamo came up from his linebacker spot and made the tackle.
For Unaka (5-2 overall) a win next week at Cosby will clinch second place in the conference and a home playoff game.

Unaka 14-12
Claiborne  0  12  0  0 – 12
Unaka        0    8  0  6 – 14
Scoring Summary
Second Quarter
C – Miles 15 fumble return (run failed) 9:34
U – L. Ramsey 7 run (L. Ramsey run) 5:24
C – Bolton 3 run (run failed) :31.0
Fourth Quarter
U – L. Ramsey 3 run (run failed) 2:02