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JCHS Homecoming festive and spirited; ‘Horns fall just short

By Matt Hill

Homecoming 2010 turned out to be a nightmare for JCHS.
The Longhorns couldn’t catch a break and when the going got tough, Cloudland got stronger and pulled out a shocking 28-26 upset over JCHS at McEwen Stadium Friday night.
The loss puts JCHS at 2-5 overall and seriously damages its playoff hopes. Meanwhile the rebuilding Highlanders won their first game over JCHS since the Mark Byrd era.
JCHS had its chances to win, but just couldn’t close the deal and the ‘Landers capitalized.
With the score tied at 14-14, kicker Eric Hernandez attempted at 32-yard field goal to win, but a bad hold prevented the kick from having a chance to go in.
The contest went into overtime as Cloudland got the ball first and Matt Cole scored on a two-yard run, but two-point try was no good, giving the ‘Landers a 20-14 lead.
The Longhorns answered back as Mark Jennings capped things off with a one-yard run to tie the game at 20-20.
The extra point, a kick, was missed and the game went into a second overtime.
Jennings scored on the first play of overtime from 10 yards out, making the two-point conversion very important.
JCHS did go for two, but an offsides penalty moved JCHS back five yards.
Kyle Miller came in at quarterback to run a similar play to the pass against Hampton the second game of the season, but the throw failed.
Cloudland then finished off the upset when Tyler Shell scored from five yards out.
The ‘Landers had spoiled the Longhorns’ homecoming as the stadium became silent.
“They (Cloudland) played like this game was more important and played with more of a sense of urgency,” JCHS head coach Mike Atwood said. “This was one of the worst losses I’ve ever had. I feel bad for everyone involved. This is a bad one for us.”
For the most part on offense, JCHS did what its done for years and that’s play smashmouth football.
Both of the Longhorns’ standout running backs had over 100 yards as Austin Humphrey finished with 127 yards on 15 carries and Mark Jennings finished with 117 yards on 24 carries.
On the night, the Longhorns had 237 yards rushing.
JCHS looked like it was going to run away and hide early as two touchdowns in the second quarter gave the Longhorns a 14-0 advantage.
“We had two 100-yard backs once again, we just can’t get a stop on defense,” Atwood said. “We’ve got to find a way to get that fixed.”
The turning point might have been on the next to last play of the second quarter.
Cloudland threw a flee flicker hail mary in the end zone which just happened to be caught by Michael Hyden.
The important two-point conversion two-point conversion was converted by Matt Cole and the Longhorns only led 14-8 at the half.
Atwood admitted the touchdown changes the flow of things.
“I probably hurt us by calling a time-out, we thought we were going to stop them and were going to work on our two-minute offense. I may have had too much faith in my defense.”
Everything went wrong for JCHS in the second half as Cloudland finished the game with 242 yards rushing.
The ‘Landers kept pounding the football and with 4:09 to go in regulation Shell scored from five yards out to tie the game at 14-14.
The two-point conversion was no good and the game went into overtime where the Landers eventually won it.
Though the Longhorns have their work cut out for them, wins over Elizabethton and Happy Valley would actually give them the conference title. There is also a non-conference game with powerful Grace Christian, meaning JCHS could actually win the conference with a 4-6 record.
The Cyclones are up first Friday at 7:30 at Dave Rider Field.
“This is a tough bounce back game,” Atwood said. “We have to win out to make the playoffs.”
Eric Arnold led the defense with 17 tackles.

RUSHING: Jennings 24-117, Humphrey 15-127.
PASSING: Steele 1-3-0, 5 yards.
RECEIVING: Arnold 1-5,
TACKLES: Arnold 17, Humphrey 10, Jennings 3, Stollings 1, Herman 6, Jacobs 7, Edington 4, Miller 3, Reece 10, Baxter 6, Icenhour 4,Gibson 2.