JONESBOROUGH — David Crockett’s football team will look back at Friday’s game against Cherokee as the one that got away.
The Pioneers outgained the Chiefs, dominated time of possession in the second half and took their first lead of the game in the closing moments of the third quarter. But in the end, Cherokee somehow escaped with a hard-fought 14-7 Five Rivers Conference victory.
“That was a classic ballgame,” Cherokee coach Mike Sivert said. “That was a hard-nosed slobberknocker.”
Crockett (1-5, 0-3) trailed 6-0 at the break before taking the second half kickoff and embarking on a drive that would have brought tears to Vince Lombardi’s eyes. Behind a thundering offensive line, the Pioneers used a rotation of running backs to bully their way down the field.
After 10:49 melted off the clock and the Pioneers managed to move the chains twice on fourth down, Chorpee Sumo capped an 18 play, 76-yard drive by diving into the end zone from three yards out. Michael Anglin kicked the extra point and put Crockett in the driver’s seat.
“That was a beautiful drive we put together,” Crockett coach Kent Green said. “If we could have had one more, we would have come away with a victory.”
Instead, the wheels came off for the Pioneers as two fourth-quarter fumbles dashed Crockett’s hopes.
The first turnover came after the Pioneers stuffed Cherokee (3-3, 1-2) on fourth down, giving Crockett the ball back at its own 46-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, a botched handoff gave the Chiefs the ball back at midfield.
A pair of big plays and a 15-yard facemask penalty on the Pioneers set up Terrance Kersey’s 4-yard scoring run, giving the Chiefs the lead for good.
Sivert said he was happy to see the way his team dominated both sides of the line after Crockett’s marathon third-quarter drive.
“As physical as we had it handed to us in the third quarter, we gave it back,” he said.
Crockett then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Cherokee the ball back. The Pioneers eventually got the ball back at their own 2-yard line, but their final drive ran out of steam in the closing moments.
“It seems like the closer we get to winning sometimes, the more excited we get, we just fail to execute,” Green said. “The effort was there — they showed a lot of character.”
Defense was the highlight for Crockett — the Pioneers gave up just eight first downs and 164 yards to an offense that hung 42 points on Central last week.
Crockett shut down the Chiefs’ passing attack, putting pressure on Cherokee quarterback David Cantrell every time he dropped back to pass. Cantrell finished with 11 yards passing, completing just one of his seven attempts.
Tyler Carter led Cherokee’s rushing attack, gaining 87 yards on 10 carries while Kerney added 70 yards on nine carries, a touchdown run and a two-point conversion run. Landon House also scored for Cherokee.
Jeremy Copas led Crockett with 58 yards on 14 carries while Robby Johnson added 54 yards on 13 runs.
After starting 1-3, Sivert said he is glad to be bringing a two-game winning streak home as an extended road trip comes to an end.
“It’s been five weeks since we’ve been in our home stadium,” Sivert said. “We’ve accomplished some good things in the last two weeks.”