Second half mistakes cost Rangers, lose to North Greene 22-20
Published 9:17 am Monday, October 16, 2023
BY C.Y. Peters
Friday night, Unaka Football faced off against North Greene in a showdown in Greenville against the Huskies. The Rangers offense was credited with six touchdowns, the bad part, three of them were for the North Greene defense.
Playing a super first half and looking like maybe having a shot at a three-way tie in the conference, the Rangers came out strong, holding their rivals scoreless in the first half. Two electrifying touchdowns by Conner McKinney and Bryin Repass, along with a successful PAT conversion by McKinney, put Unaka ahead 14-0.
The North Greene offense struggled to breach the Ranger’s staunch defense, only venturing past the 50-yard line once during the entire first half. The anticipation in the stands grew as Unaka’s fans hoped for a decisive victory.
The third quarter saw a sudden shift in the game’s dynamics. Unaka’s opening possession ended with a blocked punt that North Greene capitalized on, sprinting into the end zone to put their first points on the board. The momentum swung further in North Greene’s favor when a pass by Unaka was intercepted by Thomas Barnwell, who dashed into the end zone, narrowing the gap to 14-12. Weishua Vaught’s PAT tied the game at 14.
The turning point arrived when Unaka was backed up to their own six-yard line. A fumble in the end zone led to a North Greene recovery, putting them ahead 22-14 with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter. To everyone’s amazement, North Greene’s defense had become their greatest offensive asset.
Unaka wasn’t ready to give up just yet. With 3:22 left in the game, they orchestrated a thrilling touchdown play to Repass, his second of the night. However, the missed conversion meant they trailed by two points at 22-20.
With the game hanging in the balance, the Rangers mounted one final charge. With grit and determination, they held North Greene on three consecutive downs, but when it mattered most, they fell a yard short of the crucial first down. North Greene took over, running down the clock and sealing their playoff spot. Isaiah White caught 6 passes for 120 yards; Repass made five catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, A.J. Greenless made nine solo tackles. McKinney’s passing was 13 for 19 for 152 yards.
“For the second consecutive week, our defense pitched a shutout, allowing only 81 total yards on the night,” said Coach Bennett. “Offensively, we outgained them over 3-1.” “Unfortunately, this time around, that wasn’t good enough offensively to overcome crucial mistakes.” North Greene’s opportunistic touchdowns – a blocked punt, a fumble recovery, and an interception returned to the 1-yard line. Coach Bennett praised AJ Greenless for his heroic defensive efforts and the sparks provided by Brynin Repass and Isaiah White. “Our kids played their hearts out.”
Coach Bennett’s final words resonated deeply, “You just can’t make those kinds of mistakes. Give North Greene a lot of credit for being in position to take advantage of them.” The night ended in disappointment for Unaka, they moved into 4th place in the conference and lost the chance for a home playoff game.
Hampton in their next match-up before concluding their journey against
the Highlanders in Roan Mountain.