By Matt Hill
The JCHS Football Team finally was able to enjoy something it hadnt since midway through the 2009 season and it was very sweet.
Breaking a six-game losing streak dating back to last year and putting a halt to an 0-2 start this season, the Longhorns used 350 total yards of offense and a defensive stand late to defeat an improved Unicoi County team 21-14 in Erwin Friday night.
The Blue Devils were a tough opponent for JCHS, who under second-year coach Jerad Huskins are making great strides.
However, this night belonged to the Longhorns, Austin Humphrey and the offensive line.
Humphrey rushed for 147 yards on 10 carries and Mark Jennings had his second 100-plus game in a row with 101 on the night.
The Longhorns also received a strong game for quarterback Jason Steele, who went 7-of-13 for 97 yards.
One of those completions was for 39 yards to Chris Stollings on what was a night of big plays.
Weve got two good backs and they were keying on Mark early in the game, JCHS head coach Mike Atwood said. Humphrey broke two or three and they never adjusted to it. They put 11 men up in the box and when we had to throw a play action it worked two or three plays then they kept 11 men in the box and stopped us but once we wore their defense down and we took time off the clock.
Humphrey and Jennings got them knocking and Steele got them to the Promised Land.
In the second quarter, the Longhorns were running the football at will and a 42-yard run from Humphrey set up Jason Steeles 10-yard keeper to tie the game at 7-7.
Humphreys run changed the momentum, a run the offensive line deserves a lot of credit for as well.
The offensive line really played a great game, Atwood said. We stuck to our game plan and the offensive line came through for us.
Lineman Ryan Miller couldnt have been happier with how the line played.
It was great, he said. Were just like brothers. I felt like this was our best game.
Though a lot of the times the running backs get a lot of the credit, Miller says they all do this as a unit.
We work together with the running backs, Miller said.
The offensive line was hungry for a win and coming to school the last few weeks probably hasnt been easy.
It was a special night for the Longhorns and for Miller.
Its very good to win a game, Miller said. Were just going to keep on going and were not going to start.
Humphrey had two more long runs of 33 and 28 yards in the game and by the third quarter when Steele scored from six yards out, the Longhorns were ahead 14-7.
In the fourth quarter, JCHS led 21-7 with 10:54 left when Steele scored his third touchdown of the night, this one from one-yard out.
The game looked over with, but a feisty Unicoi team didnt give up.
With about nine minutes to go, Unicoi stripped Humphrey of the ball at the 20 and the Blue Devils scored with 8:19 to go in regulation.
An Austin Hensley run put Unicoi within seven following the extra point.
The score was 21-14 in overtime against Hampton and Atwood was beginning to wonder whether he was seeing dejavu.
I was afraid this team might be snake-bit, Atwood said. We lost a game we should have won last week and I was afraid it would happen again, but I think this win was really deserved. We played hard, we fought hard, we got over the Hampton loss and I think the boys deserve it. Im proud of them and Im happy for them.
After a hold by Unicoi, the Blue Devils had one last chance, but a great stand by the JCHS secondary allowed the Longhorns to come away with a win.
Everything was going right for JCHS, including the kicking game as Eric Hernandez kicked three extra points.
The defense deserves a game ball too for the defensive stand at halftime that saw the Blue Devils get inside the 10, only to have the drive thwarted by the Longhorns.
The defensive stand really turned the tide for us. We knew we were going to get the ball in the second half and our defense really rose up and stood.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!