FOOTBALL: Braves quintuple offensive output of Rosman in big home win

by Sep 9, 2023SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments


One Feather Asst. Editor


CHEROKEE, N.C. – The Cherokee Braves (3-1) had more than five times the offensive output of Rosman (487 yards to 97) as they went on to a big win in their Smoky Mountain Conference opener.  Cherokee won 43-6 over the Tigers in the game played on the evening of Friday, Sept. 8 at Ray Kinsland Stadium.

Mato Grant (#34), Braves running back, blasts into the end zone on a 19-yard touchdown run during a game against the Rosman Tigers at Ray Kinsland Stadium on the evening of Friday, Sept. 8. For the game, he had 9 rushes for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he caught 4 passes for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

Cherokee played well on both sides of the ball – piling up offensive yards and being stingy on defense.  The Braves had 22 first downs to Rosman’s 3.

Cherokee’s defense held Rosman to under 100 total yards including 0 yards passing.


Full Braves defensive stats include: Luke Smith, 5 assists, 1 pass break-up, 1 sack; Jonathan Saylor, 1 fumble recovery; Josiah Teesateskie, 3 assists, 2 solo; Tayvin Bark, 6 assists, 1 fumble recovery; Michel Gayosso, 2 assists, 1 solo, 1 pass break-up; Luke Climbingbear, 10 assists, 4 solo; J’Ron Lineberry, 1 assist, 2 solo, 1 sack; Mato Grant, 6 assists, 1 solo; Chaske Raines, 2 assists, 1 solo; Phillips, 1 assist; Chantin Tramper, 1 assist; Talan Crowe, 2 assists; and Emery Driver, 6 assists, 1 solo.

Grant, Braves senior running back, had a stellar night with 9 rushes for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he caught 4 passes for 51 yards and 1 touchdown.  Mike Driver, Braves senior quarterback, ran 12 times for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he completed 3 of 7 passes for 42 yards and 1 interception.

In addition to Grant’s receptions, the Braves’ receiving corps was varied on the night including: Jonathon Saylor and Elijah Lineberry who both had 3 receptions for 41 yards and Luke Smith who had 2 catches for 39 yards.

Cherokee started fast in this game.  The Braves started their first possession in good field position at their own 44-yard line and drove down the field in a 10-play drive that culminated in a 1-yard quarterback sneak touchdown by Driver.  Nathaniel Littlejohn added the point-after kick, and Cherokee led 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

Cherokee’s Josiah Teesateskie (#12) tackles Rosman’s Corey Rackley. For the night, Teesateskie had 5 total tackles (2 solo), part of a stingy Braves defense that held Rosman to under 100 yards of total offense.

Rosman was held to a three-and-out and forced to punt, the first of 7 on the night, during their first possession.  They were able to put Cherokee back a little bit more on this kick with the Braves starting on their own 19-yard line.  And then…Driver took off on an 81-yard touchdown run on first down.  Littlejohn added the point-after kick again, and Cherokee led 14-0 with 4:32 left in the first.

The Tigers were held to another three-and-out and punted.  Cherokee took over on its own 36-yard line and put together another 10-play drive.  This one culminated in a rare field goal for the Braves as Littlejohn hit one from 25 yards to make it 17-0 with 9:56 left in the half.

Cherokee’s stiff defense held Rosman to another three-and-out and punt on their next possession.  Following a bad punt, the Braves took over in great field position at the Rosman 27-yard line.  Six plays later, Driver would connect with Grant on a 12-yard touchdown pass.  Littlejohn added the point-after kick, and Cherokee led 24-0 which is how the half would end.

The Tigers got the ball first in the second half and had the same result – three-and-out and punt.  Cherokee started their first possession of the third quarter on their 27-yard line.  In what seemed to be a pattern, the Braves’ drive was 10 plays and culminated in a 19-yard touchdown run by Grant.  The point-after kick failed, and Cherokee led 30-0 with 4:30 left in the third.

Rosman was able to put together a drive on their next possession, but it stalled and they had to punt.  Cherokee started on their own 17-yard line.  On the first play, Grant ran right up the gut of the Tigers defense 83 yards for a score.  The point-after failed, the Braves led 36-0 with 11:37 left in the game.

Rosman had a four-and-out on their next possession turning the ball over on downs at their own 30-yard line.  Six plays later, J’Ron Lineberry ran 2 yards for a touchdown.  Littlejohn added the point-after kick, and Cherokee extended its lead to 43-0.

At this point, the NCHSAA mercy rule kicked in and the clock ran continuously for the remainder of the game.

Following the kickoff, Rosman took over on its own 36-yard line.  Corey Rackley made sure the Tigers weren’t shut out.  He ran around the left end, found a hole, and darted 64 yards for a touchdown.  The two-point conversion failed and Cherokee led 43-6 which is how the game would end.

Cherokee heads to Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, N.C. on Friday, Sept. 15.  The Braves then have a bye week before hosting Robbinsville at Ray Kinsland Stadium on Friday, Sept. 29.