Fourth-quarter outburst lifts Unaka past Green Dragons

Published 11:54 pm Saturday, October 2, 2021

By Paul Lunsford

The Unaka Rangers of Tennessee scored three touchdowns in the final period on Friday to claim a 52-34 win over homestanding Harlan on Homecoming Night.

The Green Dragons led 34-28 after the third quarter, but the Unaka offense took over in the fourth quarter while the Rangers defense made stops.

Unaka junior quarterback Landon Ramsey passed for two touchdowns, both to his brother, senior Devin Ramey for 23 and 10 yards, respectively. The QB went in from the 4 on the other TD. The two brother combined on a pair of 2-point conversions while Jamol Blamo added a two-point run.

The Unaka QB put up some impressive numbers, he was 24 of 37 for 409 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 38 yards and one touchdown run. Devin Ramey caught 17 receptions for 347 yards and five touchdowns.

Blamo, a junior halfback, gained 72 yards on 16 carries. The Rangers had 29 first downs on he night.

“I’m not sure I’m good enough at Madden to put up numbers like those guys did,” said Unaka coach O’Brien Bennett. “Devin and Landon were really clicking tonight.”

The Rangers gained 525 total yards of offense.

“Our secondary is horrendous right now and I’m kinda at a loss to tell you the truth,” said Harlan coach Eric Perry.

Harlan was whistled for 13 penalties for 135 yards, including four pass interference calls as well as unsportsmenship penalties.

Harlan senior quarterback Cade Middleton completed 13 of 22 on the night for 211 yards and two touchdown passes.

Junior running back Jayden Ward rushed for 120 yards on 12 carries and two TD’s and recovered two fumbles. Middleton added 47 yards on seven carries.

“Jayden is the leader of this team,” said Harlan coach Eric Perry. “He had a great gam. I even had to play him at LB a lot tonight and thought he did pretty well for his first time at that position.

“Jayden keeps a level head and deals with adversity.

Senior receiver Evan Browning had six receptions for 74 yards. Darius Akal caught three passes for 48 yards while Dylan Middleton added 68 yards on two receptions.

Coach Perry was pleased with his offense line.

‘I thought the OL played the best they have played, and have came a long way. I actually think our defensive linemen played a lot better,” said Perry.

Unaka opened the scoring midway through first quarter. The Ramsey brothers teamed up for a 22yard touchdown pass at the 5:11 mark. Blamo scored the two-point conversion on a pass from Landon Ramsey.

The Dragons fought back to tie the game on a six-play, 80-yard drive as Cade Middleton found Browning on a 3-yard scoring pass. Ward added the two-point conversion with three minutes left in the period.

Early in the second quarter, Cade Middleton found Dylan Middleton for a 57-yard TD. Harlan led 14-8 with 10:43 left in the first half.

Following two unsportmenship penalties on the Rangers, the Dragons got the ball on the Unaka 23. Cade Middleton connected with Browning on the first play to make it 22-8.

The Rangers scored two players later as the Ramsey brothers had a 14-yard TD with 8:13 left in the quarter.

Unaka used a six-play, 60-yard drive to tie the game as Landon Ramsey went in from the 4 to make it 20-all at halftime.

Ward scored twice in the third quarter, including a forced fumble and fumble recovery allowing him to race 81 yards for a touchdown. He also scored on an 18-yarder.

Unaka scored once in the period as T.J. Thomas took the opening kickoff and went 70 yards for the TD.

“To be down 20-8 early, respond and tie it up, then drive the ball inside the 10 and turn it over twice – once for a touchdown – and go into the fourth quarter down 34-28 and manage to win the game the way we did, that takes a lot of guts on their part,” added Bennett.

Junior linebacker Robert Sanford powered the defense with 11 tackles. Sophomore Noah Kirby had eight tackles while freshman Matthew Nunez added seven. Sanford, Kirby and Jared Edlridge each recorded one QB sack.

Harlan (2-4) remains home this week in its district opener against Williamsburg. The 3-2 Yellow Jackets lost to Lexington Sayre 35-17 on Friday.

Unaka (4-2) will play host to Claiborne, Tenn., this week.