Jr. Cyclones stun Greeneville on final drive of game

Published 10:28 am Thursday, September 29, 2022

Football coaches always preach that the game is never over until it’s over.
That lesson proved valuable on Wednesday evening at Citizens Bank Stadium as the T.A. Dugger Jr. Cyclones scored with four seconds left in the contest to stun the visiting Greeneville Middle School Greene Devils 22-16.
Greeneville had just taken the lead back from the Jr. Cyclones with 4:49 left in the fourth quarter.
The visitors jumped out front as Taren Claridy found pay dirt when he scored on a one-yard run with 2:02 showing on the first quarter clock. Claridy also added the two-point conversion for an early GMS 8-0 lead.
TAD pulled even in the second quarter as CJ Mathes blasted over the goal line from the three-yard line and then converted the two-point conversion.
The Jr. Cyclone defense was tough all as they recovered three fumbles and had a pass interception in the first half.
On the interception, the Jr. Cyclones were able to take their first lead of the contest just before the half.
It was once again Mathes as the bullish runner scored on a two-yard plunge to give the home team a 14-8 lead with 56 seconds showing on the clock in the second quarter. Placekicker William Bowers took care of the point-after attempt and TAD took a 15-8 lead to the locker room.
After a scoreless third quarter of play, Greeneville made the push to retake the lead. They would do so when Yorden Gomez-Mills scored from the two-yard line with 4:49 left in the game. Gomez-Mills also tacked on the two-point conversion and the Jr. Greene Devils were up 16-15.
There was no panic on the Jr. Cyclone sideline as a hefty feeding of the football to Mathes put TAD within reach of taking the win as time was ticking down.
After running a play to center the ball between the uprights to give Bowers an opportunity to win the game if needed on a field goal, the Jr. Cyclones found themselves on the one-yard line and after a timeout by Greeneville, the Jr. Cyclones dialed up yet another handoff to Mathes who powered his way over the goal line as the Jr. Cyclone sideline erupted in celebration.
Bowers PAT was good and TAD led 22-16 with four seconds left to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball hit a Jr. Greene Devil in the helmet and bounced backwards toward the oncoming Jr. Cyclone coverage where an alert Bowers recovered his own kick to end the game and season for the Jr. Cyclones.
“These kids don’t ever give up,” said Jr. Cyclone head coach Brock Pittman.” Defensively, we gave up that big third and long where they ran a screen and we hadn’t seen that on film. We played good enough to win the game defensively and when it came down to it, with four and a half minutes left, we had the ball but we had to drive. Our goal was to at least to get in field goal range because we knew our boy William Bowers could kick the field goal to win the game but we ended up scoring. That is a credit to those kids and their toughness and we want to be the toughest team on the field and I feel like at the end of the day, that was what we were.”
Pittman could do anything but lavish praise on the 2022 group of eighth graders who were recognized prior to the contest.
“That’s Greeneville and they are going to see Greeneville for the next four years because they are conference rivals,” Pittman said. “All 23 eighth graders who I love to death – their record now is 23-2. That group came in when COVID hit and we could only practice ten at a time and that group had faced more adversity in the last three years than any group of kids that I have ever seen and that includes tonight. I am so proud of those kids. This was a great way to top off the season.
The Jr. Cyclones finished their season with a 7-1 record.

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