DRY RIDGE — After Saturday night they might want to consider changing the name of Grant County High School’s home town. Dry Ridge was anything but. First, high humidity caused a 30 minute delay to the start of Middlesboro’s game with the Braves. Then a heavy rainfall with continuous lightning halted play late in the second quarter and the game was eventually called with the score tied at 7.
The Jackets took the opening kick and quickly marched 60 yards on eight plays to take the lead. Senior receiver Jake Brock picked up 24 yards on a jet sweep and senior running back ran the ball five times for 24 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown.
Tanner Hoskins added the extra point and it was 7-0 with 8:11 remaining in the first quarter.
“With all the things going on — a three and a half hour bus ride, the heat delay — we came out the right way and did what we needed to the first two drives on offense and defense,” Middlesboro coach Zach Massengill said.
The teams traded punts over the next few possessions until Grant County’s Joseph Knipp made a nice play to intercept a Major Edwards pass near midfield and returned it down to the MHS 30.
Quarterback Michael McLean hooked up with Dustin Haubner for a 14-yard gain and a first down at the MHS 5. McLean ran it in from there and Ben Willoughby’s kick tied the game at 7 with 7:10 to play in the second quarter.
“We came out with some intensity but we fell off for some reason. I’m not sure why but we’ve got to correct those things,” Massengill added. “We’ve got to play with that intensity the whole time.”
The Jackets were stopped on fourth down at their own 42, but turned away Braves by forcing a fourth-down incompletion at the 26.
By then the rain had started to fall and a wet ball likely contributed to Middlesboro’s Seth Barton losing a fumble on the next play.
Grant County was facing a third and 14 from the Jacket 31 when the first lightning flash halted play.
The teams waited for over two hours but the lightning never stopped and the game was called.
Pittman led Middlesboro with 33 yards on eight carries. Edwards had a 25-yard run and completed three of five passes for 16 yards. Brock had two catches for 19 yards to go along with that 24-yard run.
Big junior tailback Hunter Lawson led Grant County with 14 carries for 49 yards. McLean ran it twice for 14 yards and was three of five passing for 19 yards.
“They were a big, physical team and I thought we made some corrections on defense and were able to get a stop or two. We put the fire out after a couple of turnovers,” Massengill said. “We’ve got to come together on offense and take care of the football.”
The Jackets spent most of the half in one and two-back sets out of the shotgun. Massengill added that his coaching staff was ready to change things up but never got the opportunity.
“We were going to open that series and see what our wishbone package looked like. But we fumbled it on the very first play and had to go back on defense,” he said.
Grant County (0-0) hosts Owen County on Friday while Middlesboro (0-0) has an open date next week and will play at Pineville on Sept. 5.
“It’s frustrating to be going into a bye week so early, I’d prefer it to be in the middle of the season closer to district. But we’re going to use it to fix a lot of these mistakes and we’re going to focus on us,” Massengill said. “We’ll start looking a Pineville a little bit, Bart (Elam)’s got a nice team and I’m sure they’ll be excited to play us. Hopefully we’ll be up to that challenge.”
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M — Ryan Pittman 8 run (Tanner Hoskins kick)
GC — Michael McLean 5 run (Ben Willoughby kick)
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|RUSHING — Middlesboro: Ryan Pittman 8-33, Major Edwards 1-25, Jake Brock 1-24, Seth Barton 4-8, Tyler Yoakum 2-4; Grant Co.: Hunter Lawson 14-49, Tristan Wallace 4-19, Michael McLean 2-14.|
|PASSING — Middlesboro: Edwards 3-5-1-16; Grant Co.: McLean 3-5-0-19.|
|RECEIVING — Middlesboro: Jake Brock 2-19, Pittman 1-(-3); Grant Co.: Dustin Haubner 1-14, Jacob Ferguson 1-4, Austin Schneider 1-1.|