Rangers keep playoff hopes alive, thrash Hancock 52-14

Published 12:27 pm Monday, October 9, 2023

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BY C.Y. Peters

In a stunning display of dominance, the Unaka Rangers delivered an electrifying performance this past Friday night, trouncing Hancock County with a final score of 52-14. The game got off to an explosive start as Unaka quickly seized control, scoring two touchdowns within the first five minutes.

Quarterback Conner McKinney was the maestro of the offensive onslaught, showcasing his precision by completing 8 of 16 passes, resulting in three spectacular touchdowns. Not content with just his arm, McKinney displayed his versatility by carrying the ball 15 times for an impressive 150 yards on the ground.

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Running back Kian Barton joined the scoring frenzy, rushing for 80 yards and crossing the goal line twice. He also converted a crucial two-point conversion, adding to the Rangers’ point tally.

Coach O’Brien Bennett, radiating with pride, praised his team’s effort, saying, “We have spent the last few weeks working to correct some mistakes and trying to develop depth and get healthy. We really wanted to contain Hancock County’s explosive playmakers and did a very good job defensively being in position and making tackles. Offensively, we wanted to lean on our offensive line and backfield, and those guys up front did a tremendous job.”

The Rangers’ defense was equally impressive, with six players recording two tackles each, and a total of 12 players contributing to the tackling effort. This collective defensive display prevented Hancock from gaining any significant momentum.

Isaiah White proved to be a receiving dynamo, securing four passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns, while Brynin Repass, returning from injury, added two receptions for 35 yards and a two-point conversion. A.J. Greenless added to the offensive fireworks with 67 rushing yards and a successful PAT.

Coach Bennett commended the entire team, stating, “Aidan Peterson, Chris Good, Marcus Shomaker, Tyler Smith, Jake Taylor, and Nathan Bailey all stepped up. Kian Barton, Connor McKinney, and AJ Greenless were big beneficiaries as we rushed for nearly 300 yards on the night.”

Looking ahead, the Rangers are gearing up for a monumental showdown against North Greene, a highly anticipated conference game. Coach Bennett acknowledged the challenge, saying, “We have a major challenge in North Greene. They return one of the best overall football players in our region in Yeshua Vaught, and they have a defense that matches up very well with what we do offensively.” He emphasized the need for precision and discipline on both sides of the ball, emphasizing that turnovers and explosive plays would likely determine the outcome of this crucial match-up.

With their spectacular victory over Hancock County Indians behind them, the Unaka Rangers are setting their sights on the formidable North Greene, ready to face the challenges that lie ahead and continue their impressive run in the season, hoping to host a home playoff game while still in the running for maybe a conference three-way tie.