Champs rally too late in loss

Sunday, October 8, 2017
Chandler Wiggins splits the defense on a big gain for Cascade. He scored the Champs' first touchdown of the game on and 11-yard strike. (T-G Photo by Chris Siers)

For the past two weeks, the Cascade Champions have had quality first halves against their opposition, yet struggled to close out the game.

On Friday night against visiting Grundy County, Cascade overcame a disastrous first half and put forth a valiant rallying effort late, however that rally fell just short of completing the comeback in a 27-14 region loss.

“We’re trying to put together a full game. We put together a second half today and we didn’t put together a first half. We have to turn turnovers into touchdowns and we have to eliminate stupid penalties,” coach Jake Tyre said.

Missed chance

On the first play from scrimmage, Grundy County fumbled the ball on its own 25-yard line, setting the Champs up with prime real estate to work the offense.

But on Cascade’s first play from scrimmage, junior quarterback Colby Melson was picked off by Grundy County’s Blaine Harris, who streaked 90 yards down the sideline for the touchdown.

Throughout the first half, Grundy County moved the ball well, but Cascade limited the damage on the scoreboard thanks to two picks in the end zone by senior corner Will Carter.

But even with the two interceptions thrown by Ethan Nunley, Grundy County managed to build a 21-0 lead by halftime.

Meanwhile, the Cascade offense piled up just 19 yards of offense in the first half, 16 of which went to a pass to Carter in the second quarter.

Grundy County added to its lead after recovering an unintentional onside kick on the first drive of the second half and took the drive seven plays into the end zone for another score.

Andrew Stephens (64) and A.J. Phillips (27) combine for a sack in the backfield. (T-G Photo by Chris Siers)

Changes

While the third quarter was more of the same for Cascade on the offensive side of the ball, the Champions finally mobilized the offense late in the game.

Despite another interception to start the fourth quarter, Cascade senior Ryan Goodson recovered a fumble on the Grundy County 39-yard line.

Cascade eventually trudged its way into the red zone and from the 11-yard line, junior Chandler Wiggins found a crease and broke his way into the end zone to put the Champs on the board.

Following Wiggins’ score, the game took an interesting turn.

Cascade successfully executed the ensuing onside kick with 7:37 left in the game.

Seven plays later, Melson hit Goodson on a 12-yard touchdown pass, further cutting into the Yellow Jacket lead.

Penalty hurts

Even more interesting, Cascade appeared to successfully execute a second-straight onside kick, however a false start penalty negated the kick.

Grundy County recovered the following kick and was able to survive the late rally.

Though the chips didn’t fall the Champs’ way, Tyre never doubted his team’ effort in the game.

“The kids fought their butts off. They’re fighting for everything they get,” he said.

Senior Brandon Floyd helped Cascade mobilize the offense late, being Melson’s favorite target of the game.

Floyd led Cascade in receiving yards, with 29.

“He (Floyd) did a good job receiving the ball. Overall, it’s a big play game, and if you eliminate three big plays in the first half. There you go. If you eliminate two long runs and an interception returned for a touchdown—once again big plays got us,” Tyre said.

Melson completed 12 of 37 passing attempts for 99 yards. He also threw three interception and a touchdown.

Cascade will hit the road for another lengthy road trip next week and travel to region top-dog Trousdale County.

Grundy Co. 6 15 6 0 — 27
Cascade 0 0 0 14 — 14

First Quarter

G — Blaine Harris 90 yard interception turn (kick failed) 11:15.

Second Quarter

G — Ethan Nunley 62 run (Kyle Shenard kick) 8:35.

G — Evan Nunley 4 run (Hagan Cash 2pt. run) 2:47.

Third Quarter

G — Evan Nunley 5 run (kick blocked) 8:25.

Fourth Quarter

C — Chandler Wiggins 11 run (Chay Chumley kick) 7:58.

C — Ryan Goodson 12 pass from Colby Melson (Chumley kick) 5:33.