By Ed Greif
"It was the most complete game we could have played tonight. This was the first time we scored first this season. The defense played well," said CCHS Jet coach Ted McCaslin after his team defeated the Sweetwater Wildcats (3-4) for its first win of the season.
This snapped a 23-game losing streak, dating back to a 34-16 win over Warren County on Sept. 2, 2011.
"Every game has five big plays. We won the big plays tonight. We ran the ball effectively. Some of the kids made great catches. You can't get too high, and you can't go too low," said McCaslin. "I love our fans. I love our students. I love our school. Tonight, we put it all together."
The Jet offense had its best game of the season, rushing for 141 yards on 30 carries and 188 yards passing on nine of 26 passes with three touchdowns and one interception thanks to a good night by the offensive line of James Vallecillo, Reed Shaw, Tyler Hoskins, Michael Vaughn, Michael Davis, Marshall Dye, Kobe Cox and Cody Threet.
Dorian Holt was the leading rusher with 61 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown, while Jordan Buckner completed nine of 26 passes for the 188 yards and three TDs.
The Jet defense of Nolan McClain, A.J. Dick, Tyler Norris, Dylan Oakes, Chace Marshall, kenny Brewer, Dorian Holt, Tyler Cantrell, Trey McCloud, Colton Dykes, Zac Smith, Michale Miller, Daniel Richards, Seth Randall, Kobe Cox and Zakk King held the Sweetwater offense to 34 yards rushing on 25 carries, including four tackles for minus 22 yards and 186 yards passing on three of 13 of 41 passes for 186 yards with three interceptions and recovered three fumbles.
To paraphrase an old TV commericial, "You deserve a break today."The breaks finally came the Jets' way. As all season long, a penalty, a turnover or a big play cost the team a score.
The first break of the game came on the opening kick, as the Wildcat kick returner fumbled at the Jet 40. Nolan McClain recovered his first of two fumbles, giving his team the ball at the Wildcat 40; however, the 'Cats held the Jets to three plays and out.
The Jet defense held the 'Cats to three plays and out, thanks to a sack by Dick. Norris forced a 'Cat fumble on the second play; however, the hosts recovered.
After another three and out by the Jets, Sweetwater took over at their four-yard line. Two plays later, McClain recovered his second fumble at the five.
Buckner then passed five yards to Dykes for a 6-0 lead. Gene Cravens' PAT gave the Jets their first lead of the season.
After Dalton Davis' kick sailed out of bounds, Sweetwater took over at their 35. The Wildcats moved the ball to the 49, before punting. Marshall recorded a tackle for loss to spark the Jet defense.
CCHS took over at their 19. After an incomplete, two penalties and short gain by Norris, Buckner took to the air and completed three of four passes for 80 yards, including a 40-yard catch by Dykes for a score with 1:47 left in the first quarter. Cravens' PAT made it 14-0. Dykes had two passes for 45 yards, while King had one catch for 35 yards.
After a short KOR by Ashaunde Thaxton, the Wildcats took over at their 44 and marched the distance to slice the Jet lead to 14-7 with 10:30 left in the half. D.J. Vanderwerf passed 33 yards to Thaxton to cap the 56-yard drive in seven plays.
CCHS took the enusing kick at their 30, but a fumble by Kenny Brewer was recovered by Sweetwater at the Wildcat 26.
One of the big plays McCaslin referred to, a 36-yard pass from Vanderwerf to Trent Wattenbarger, gave the hosts a first down at the Jet 40; however, the Jet D' stopped the Wildcats on downs at the Jet 32.
Buckner was picked off by Hansen McKenzie to give Sweetwater the ball at the Jet 19. Penalties on both teams moved the ball back and forth between the 19- and 24-yard lines; however, three plays later, Brewer picked off a Wildcat pass and raced 41 yards to the Jet 43.
Nine plays later, Buckner passed 18 yard to Dick for a TD with 1:31 left in the half for a 20-7 lead; however, the two-point conversion failed. There were two big plays by the Jets — an 18-yard run by Dick and a 15-yard pass from Buckner to King.
Another good KOR by the Wildcats gave them the ball at their 45-yard line. The hosts then drove 55-yards in nine plays to score on a 13-yard pass from Vanderwerf to Thaxton to slice the lead to 20-13 with less than a second left in the half. The center of the Jet line blocked the PAT to keep the score at 20-13.
The outcome of the game was determined in the third quarter, as the Jet defense held the Wildcats to two yards rushing on six carries and 26 yards passing on three of nine passes. The Jet offense was held to nine yards rushing on seven carries and one of four passes for five yards.
The Jet defense forced a Wildcat punt on the first possession of the half and stopped one more on downs, as the quarter ended 20-13.
"Our third-quarter defense was phenoninal. It is improved so much since the Rhea County game," added McCaslin.
After a change of possessions in the final quarter, the Widlcats took over at their 44; however, Dykes picked off a fourth-down pass a the Jet 20. A 36-yard pass from Buckner to Dick moved the ball into Wildcat territory. After an incomplete pass, Buckner then completed three of three passes for 44 yards, including a14-yard pass to Holt for a TD with 7:38 left in the game for 26-13 advantage. Cravens' PAT made it 27-13.
The Jet dense took over, stopping the Wildcats on downs twice, to seal the deal on their first win of the season.
The Jets will start a three-game, season-ending homestand Friday night against the Cookeville Cavaliers (4-2, 2-1) at 7 p.m. CCHS has lost 14-straight games to the Cavaliers, with the last win being a 13-12 decision in 1998.
The CCHS cheerleaders will be coordinating the annual Pink Out game to support breast cancer awareness. Jordan Johnson will have a breast cancer awareness booth set up, while the cheerleaders will be selling Frito Banditos and having games prior to the game. Acitivities will be fromr 5:30-7 p.m.
Also, CCHS homecoming week begins Oct. 21, capped by the annual homecoming game with Grundy County on Oct. 25, which will include the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The homecoming parade will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24.