Unaka Rangers spoil Happy Valley’s Homecoming

Published 11:56 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

BY C.Y. Peters
Star Correspondent
 You could get a parking spot at Neyland Stadium faster than on Warrior Hill Friday night.  It was Homecoming night and half of the City Police force had traffic stopped from every direction for the parade that started at Happy Valley Elementary School.  Ten contestants were dressed to kill and riding in some of the nicest cars with the tops down.  At game time the temperature had dropped to the mid 50’s, a great night for football.
  Happy Valley won the toss and would take the opening kick-off and return the ball to the 32-yard line.  Quarter Reagan Ensor would move the Warriors down the field.  Bronson Norman and Joseph Sowards picking up big gains.  As a Warrior running back had broke several tackles and run into Joe-z Blamo and as the two hit the ball fell loose at the 12 and Marcus Shomaker of the Rangers recovered.
  The Rangers could only move the ball out to the 27 before they were forced to punt.  A great punt by Landon Ramsey sent the ball back to the Warrior 39.  On fourth and sixth the Warriors were going for the first but a penalty forced them to punt.  After the return Unaka started on the 48. Blamo would pick up a big first down on fourth down but the Rangers could only move the ball to the 28.  After back-to-back flags and a good return, the Warriors started their next possession on the 48. They would move the ball down to the 20 where they were stopped on fourth down.
  On Unaka’s first play, they fumbled, leading to a 10-yard touchdown by Sowards.  At the end of one, the Warriors led 6-0.
  At the break, Gracie Young was crowned the 2022 Warrior Homecoming Queen.  Other girls running for the senior queen were Natalie Presnell, Abby Galliher and Adrianna Harageones.
  To start the second half, it only took the Rangers 15-seconds to take the lead.  T.J. Thomas took the kick and returned it 67 yards for a score.  An un-sportsman penalty put the Rangers back on the 18.  Ramsey dropped back and hit Joe-z across the middle for the PAT and the lead 8-6.
  The Warriors first possession of the second half was led mostly by Sowards who was determined to get the lead back. He drug Rangers down the field and on fourth and one from the sixth he crossed the goal line.  At the 7:50 mark, the Warriors were back in front 12-8.
  Unaka ran a couple of plays gaining only a yard or two, then Jacob Wilson and Tyler Smith opened a hole for Blamo who busted up the middle for a 56-yard score.  He also caught the two-point conversion and in less than a minute Unaka regained the lead 16-12.
  Happy Valley would move the ball to the Unaka 30 before Braydon Powell busted through the Warrior line on a pitch-back and sacked the runner for a loss of 18-yards. This forced the Warriors to punt for the first time in the second half.  Blamo makes a good run but then Unaka’s third un-sportsman penalty moves the ball back to the 13. The third quarter would end with the Rangers leading 16-12.  The Rangers suffered a big blow when Blamo took a lick and had to go to the sidelines. Unaka moved the ball out to the Warrior 45 before turning it over on downs with 8:24 to play.
  On the first play, the Warriors fumble and Unaka takes over at mid-field.  A pass play to Joe-z and a run play up the middle moves the ball to Warrior territory.  Another penalty moves it back with 6:59 to play just inside the 50 at the 48.  Sowards wins the hit of the night when it looks like Ramsey has an open field and he runs head-on to Sowards forcing the Rangers to punt.
  Happy Valley tried a halfback pass and the ball was just out of reach of a score and brought up a big fourth down with four minutes to play. The Rangers take over on the Warrior 47.  On first down, Ramsey picks up six yards. Ramsey rolls around the right end and picks up a big first down with under three minutes to go. Ramsey is sacked and Coach Jarrett takes his final time-out. Ramsey on the keeper around the left side and moves the ball down to the 11-yard line. The Rangers are now just trying to run out the clock. At 1:34 Unaka’s Freeman and Happy Valleys Drew Blevins is ejected from the game as four flags went flying.  The Rangers just took a knee and run out the clock for a 16-12 win. The Rangers are off next week while the Warriors will travel to Cumberland Gap.

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