JCHS freshmen top West 22-18
Jefferson County’s Treyson Mills (4) is tackled by Morristown West’s Mason Bare during Monday’s freshman football game played at Burke-Toney Stadium.
Morristown West freshman football coach Josh Edens and his Trojans team has suffered their fare share of losses this season, including four losses by less than six points.
However, on Monday night at Burke-Toney Stadium, the Trojans suffered their most heartbreaking defeat of the year. West was penalized on a controversial fourth down and 15 play, which kept a scoring drive alive for visiting Jefferson County who eventually scored and grabbed a 22-18 victory over the Trojans.
For Edens, the final minute of the contest summed up the season for West’s ninth grade squad.
“We have lost so many close games this year, and we really thought we had this win tonight,” said Edens. “A horrible call was made, but you can’t hold that against Jefferson County and what they accomplished. It’s just been that kind of year for us. We think we’re in control and the next minute we’ve lost.
“Tonight’s loss is very hard to swallow and it will sting us for a while, but we have to keep working hard and getting better.”
With 1:28 showing on the fourth quarter clock, Jefferson County retained possession and trailed 18-15. Moments later, as the clock ticked towards the final horn, the Patriots faced fourth down and 15. Jefferson County quarterback Zach Rogers threw a deep pass, which drew flags from the officials.
As both sidelines waited to see if the call was pass interference, the final decision went in favor of the Patriots. Rogers then found Jonathan Royster on a 44-yard touchdown with 30 seconds remaining. After a successful extra-point, the Patriots left nearly no time for a Trojan comeback in the shocking comeback victory.
“We have to also look at a big play we didn’t finish in the fourth quarter,” added Edens. “On a second and one play with three minutes left we had an opportunity to put the game away and we didn’t. We’ve got to do a better job of blocking.”
On the first possession of the game, the Patriots put together a long scoring drive. Rogers crossed midfield with an 11-yard gain. After the first down carry by Rogers, Hunter Kountz and Tucker Seay highlighted the drive with first down plays.
The drive was pushed back after a 20-yard run from Treyson Mills. Brandon Brewer followed a penalty with a 23-yard run to the 28-yard line. With 5:21 showing on the first quarter clock, Kountz took an off-tackle handoff from 20 yards out for a touchdown. After a successful kick, Jefferson County took a 7-0 lead.
Morristown West quarterback Elijah Brown wasted no time showing off his running skills. On the first play from scrimmage for the Trojans, Brown scrambled 17 yards downfield to move the ball into Jefferson County territory. Brown later completed a long pass setting up a touchdown with 3:57 left. Hezekiyah Rudolph took a handoff from Brown and raced 23 yards for a score. However, the extra-point kick attempt sailed wide-right to put the score at 7-6.
Later in the quarter, Jefferson County tried a little trickery, but the attempt failed. On fourth down and 2 on the 43-yard line, the Patriots attempted a fake punt, but a host of Trojan defenders spoiled the plot. Morristown West retained possession, which allowed running back Patrick Livingston to move the ball downfield on a 14-yard carry to the Jefferson County 29 as the first quarter ended. However, the drive ended on the 21-yard line as the Trojans failed to convert a fourth down keeper by Brown.
Later in the second quarter, Jefferson County moved the ball across midfield on a 19-yard run by Rogers. The Patriots appeared to gain momentum with back-to-back runs of 15 yards, but both runs were negated due to penalties.
The luck appeared to be on the Trojans’ side as they forced a punt, but Jefferson County recovered a muffed return to set the ball in excellent territory on the Trojans’ 18 yard line. However, the Trojans stepped up with a big defensive stand, which was highlighted by a sack from Jahmaal Williams on fourth down to hold the Jefferson County offense out of the end zone before the half ended.
In the third quarter, the Trojans wasted no time scoring. On the first play from scrimmage, Brown threw a deep pass to a racing Jacob Metler down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown only 19 seconds into the half. Morristown West once again missed the extra-point for a 12-7 lead with 9:41 showing in the period.
Later in the third quarter, West put together a red zone scoring attempt. Rudolph got the ball into the red zone after a 24-yard carry. Facing fourth down and 1, the Trojans gained a first down after the Patriots jumped offsides.
West took advantage of the penalty with a score. Brown broke off a few tackles and landed into the end zone from 3 yards away for an 18-7 lead with 57 seconds left in the quarter. The Trojans tried for two points, but the attempt failed.
In the fourth quarter, the Patriots refused to go down without a fight. Jefferson County put together a scoring drive behind Royster, who entered at quarterback. He converted a few key passes and later reached paydirt from 8 yards away with 6:21 left in the game. After a successful two-point conversion, the Patriots closed the gap to 18-15. However, the best was yet to come as Jefferson County won in clutch fashion.
Trailing 18-15, the Patriots took over possession with 1:28 remaining in the game. They attempted to get into field goal position, but had to work hard for it as they took over at their own 40. Less than a minute later, Jefferson County was celebrating with a game-winning touchdown by Royster.
-By Chris Ayers, Assistant Sports Editor