By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Asst. Editor
Note: Official statistics are not taken for junior varsity games. All times and yardages are recorded by One Feather staff at the game to the best of our ability.
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Even with a lightning delay at the start and rain scattered throughout, the Cherokee JV Braves put on an offensive show for their Homecoming Night. Cherokee (4-1) topped Hayesville (1-3) by a score of 62-22 in a rainy game at Ray Kinsland Stadium on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 14.
Hayesville actually got on the board first in this game. Following a 57-yard return on the opening kickoff by Silas Lovingood, Hayesville set up shop for their first possession at the Braves 13-yard line. Three plays later, Lance Coker ran 4 yards for the first score of the game. Coker ran for the two-point conversion, and Hayesville led 8-0 at the 8:28 mark of the first quarter.
And, then, Cherokee took over the game.
The Braves started their first possession at their own 49-yard line. Eight plays later, Drallen Ledford caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Dawson Panther to put Cherokee on the board. Kyitan Johnson ran for the two-point play to tie the game with 4:51 left in the first.
Hayesville fumbled the ensuing kickoff which was recovered by Cherokee’s Noah Watty. The Braves started at the Hayesville 25-yard line. Five plays later, Zaynon Taylor blasted 7 yards for a touchdown. Johnson ran for the two-point conversion, and Cherokee took a 16-8 lead with 2:32 left in the quarter.
Hayesville fumbled the ensuing kickoff which was recovered by Cherokee’s Johnathan Rivera at the Hayesville 36-yard line. Six plays later, Landon Seay ran 5 yards for a score. He then ran for the two-point play to give the Braves a 24-6 lead at the 9:56 mark of the second quarter.
Hayesville turned the ball over on downs on their next possession, and Cherokee took over on their own 46-yard line. On second down, Panther hit Cain Welch on a 39-yard pass that took them deep into Hayesville territory. Two plays later, Johnson ran for an 8-yard touchdown. The two-point pass failed, and Cherokee led 30-8 with 5:44 left in the half.
The Yellow Jackets were forced to punt on their next possession, and the Braves took over on their own 16-yard line. Cherokee put together a 9-play drive that culminated in a 26-yard touchdown run by Kingston Welch. He also ran for the two-point conversion, and Cherokee led 38-8 which is how the half would end.
Cherokee started the second half on their own 49-yard line. The Braves drove down into the Hayesville red zone but couldn’t score and turned it over on downs at the Yellow Jackets 14-yard line. Four plays later, Cherokee’s Wakinyan Raines recovered a fumble at the Hayesville 26-yard line.
The Braves were unable to capitalize and turned the ball over on downs at the Hayesville 27-yard line. On the first play of their drive, the Yellow Jackets were back in the end zone as Johan Webb galloped 73 yards for a touchdown. The two-point play failed, and Cherokee led 38-14 with 36.6 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Braves wasted no time in answering. After starting on their own 48-yard line, Cherokee got into the end zone five plays later as Johnson ran 8 yards for a score. Tsuwa Pheasant ran for the two-point conversion, and Cherokee led 46-14 with 9:27 left in the game.
On the third play of their next possession, Hayesville fumbled again – this time it was recovered by Kingston Welch at the Yellow Jackets 3-yard line. On the next play, Seay ran 1 yard on a quarterback keeper. He ran for the two-point conversion, and Cherokee extended its lead to 54-14 with 8:12 left.
The NCHSAA mercy rule went into effect at this point, and the clock ran continuously for the remainder of the game.
Almost the exact same scenario occurred on Hayesville’s next possession. On their fifth play, the Yellow Jackets fumbled the ball which was recovered by James Martinez at the Cherokee 47-yard line. Five plays later, Cherokee’s Vladamir Owle ran 8 yards for a score. Nicholai Solis ran for the two-point conversion to make it 62-14 with just over two minutes left.
Hayesville started the last drive of the game at midfield. On the last play of the game and with time expired, Coker hit Webb on a 50-yard touchdown pass. Coker ran for the two-point play, and the game ended with Cherokee on top 62-22.
The Cherokee JV Braves host the Swain County JV Maroon Devils at Ray Kinsland Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.