The West Greene Buffaloes played host to the Claiborne Bulldogs Oct. 21. The weather finally felt like football with Friday night lights reflecting the fall season with cooler temperatures, slight breeze and a mist of rain in the air. The Bulldogs knew if they played well that they could come away with a victory but the home team got some inspiration from senior night and also got a 28-16 victory.
Before the game Coach Nathan Medlin spoke about what it would take for the Bulldogs to come away with the win, “I told our team that if we keep our mistakes down that we could beat this team. We have to play together and don’t beat ourselves.”
His words were spot-on as mistakes and turnovers in the late portion of the game would put his team in a position that they could not work out of. During the first quarter of the game, the Bulldogs took it to the Buffaloes as the Claiborne defense as a team was flying all over the place. Hard hits by Hunter Rosenbalm, J.J. Helderman and so many more excited the several dedicated Bulldogs fans that were stuck in the bleachers on the goal line. For one quarter of play these two teams battled to a scoreless draw.
During the second quarter, West Greene open up the scoring with a three-yard pass to Chase Jennings and following the point after the home team led 7-0. With 1:50 left in the first half they found the end zone again with a Julian Lane five-yard TD run. The kick was perfect and the Buffs now led 14-0. The half ended with the same score.
During the break Claiborne’s marching band put on a great show followed up with the host team’s band doing the same. It was a very entertaining halftime break.
In the third quarter, Ty Stone found Rosenbalm for an eight-yard touchdown pass and catch which was followed up by a Jeremiah Beason two-point conversion run through the middle of the defense. Claiborne was down 14-8 and had that one point advantage if they could manage another score and point after. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs the Buffaloes responded with a score of their own at the 1:03 mark on a Lane TD run covering 11 yards. After the point after attempt the game score was 21-8.
Claiborne once again rallied in the fourth quarter when Stone and Beason hooked up for a TD and two point conversion respectively and put the pressure back on the Buffaloes with 21-16 now showing on the scoreboard. At 4:06 the game effectively ended when the Buffs Lane led his team down field and scored on a four yard run and made the two point conversion. The final score of this contest was 28-16.
Claiborne had battled hard but couldn’t finish a very bold comeback attempt. The team continues to make positive strides and have found some successful passing in an offense more suited for running. After the game Medlin told his players this, “Keep your heads up and let’s get back to work this upcoming week. We have to be all in, we have to be a family. Everyone show up to practice next week and let’s get back to work.”
Something noticed during the game was that the 10 yard sticks were actually closer to 11 yards. When asked about this a sideline official said, “The sticks are correct. The field is marked wrong and is actually shorter than it supposed to be. I have been coming up here for about 12 years and when the field is pinned the total yardage is short. We have expressed our concerns over this on different occasions.”
Although the play on the field is not really affected by this since both teams play with the same chains, it is concerning to visiting teams that the issue has not been addressed in approximately a dozen years.
The Bulldogs record is now 2-7 with one last chance to improve October 28 as they will host the 4-5 overall and 4-2 in district Pigeon Forge Tigers. Kickoff is scheduled tentatively at 7:30 p.m. and the senior members will be recognized.
Reach Allen Earl at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @pitchadude.