Cocke County makes Seymour work for victory
Prep football fans may have been a little surprised by the narrow 19-14 Seymour win at Cocke County on Friday night at Hedrick Field, but the Eagles weren’t.
“We watched Cocke County on film, and we thought Cocke County looked better than what we’d seen of Clinton,” said Eagles coach Jim Moore, referring to the 27-7 Seymour loss in Week 1. “So we knew Cocke County was capable.”
But still, the Roosters (0-3 overall, 0-1 IMAC) had yet to score a point after dropping their first two games of the year by a combined 68-0 margin.
“But we knew if you let them score one time — and we let them score — that’s what they were waiting for, because they’ve got some big-play guys,” said Moore. “But we got the win, and we’ll take it.”
Seymour’s starting senior quarterback Nick Sexton went down early last week with a nasty looking left foot injury against Clinton, as the Eagles (2-1 overall, 1-0 IMAC) worried they might lose him to a broken foot. The X-rays were negative for a break, but Sexton didn’t practice much all week and was a game-day decision in Newport.
Backup senior Brandon Gann got the nod to start against Cocke County and led the Eagles to a 25-yard J.J. Jerman field goal on their opening possession.
But after reaching the second quarter still with just a 3-0 lead, the Eagles sent Sexton into the game with a 1st-and-10 at their own 12 with 10:46 left in the first half.
“We were just going to see how the game dictated itself,” said Moore. “Brandon brought us down, and we scored that field goal.
“But Nick seemed to be ready, he’s got that experience and it’s an IMAC game. Brandon was ready to play, but we just had to go with the experience (of Sexton).”
It was possibly a game-saving decision for Seymour, as Sexton led an eight-play, 88-yard drive capped by a Ben Roethlisberger-esque 40-yard scrambling TD throw to junior wideout Braxton Dockery to give the Eagles some breathing room and a 10-0 lead with 6:20 in the half.
“Nick made a good move, a very athletic play, and was able to get free and see (Dockery),” said Moore. “That just comes with experience.”
But for the first time this season the Fighting Cocks lived up to their moniker, clawing their way back into it when senior Hunter Suggs connected with junior Austin Loveday for a six-yard TD that cut it to 10-7 with 6:52 in the third.
But that’s when Seymour senior Tanner Sise stepped up on the ensuing snap from scrimmage and took the rock 77 yards to paydirt for a 16-7 lead with 6:29 in the third.
“Tanner is a workhorse, we’ve said it all along,” said Moore. “Tanner is a throwback. He’s going to give you 100 percent every time out there, and he’s going to run hard.”
After a 37-yard Jerman field goal made it 19-7 Seymour with 54.9 seconds in the third, the Roosters again responded, making it the eventual final when senior Kimble Thornton made some nifty moves en route to a 35-yard score with 10 minutes left.
But Seymour junior linebacker Cody Huff made a nice interception and 14-yard return of a Suggs pass in Eagle territory with 1:54 in regulation, and Sise iced it for the Eagles with a powerful run through the 5-hole to convert a 3rd-and-7 near midfield, allowing Seymour to preserve the five-point victory with a series of kneel downs.
The Eagles know they were fortunate to come away with their first IMAC win of the season, and they know they have a lot of work to do to string two wins together as they host the Wing-T offense of Heritage this coming Friday night.
“I think we’ve got to put together a better effort each and every week,” said Moore. “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. We need to be better.”
And after Sexton survived the nearly three quarters he played at Cocke County without aggravating his foot injury, the Eagles expect their signal caller to be better next week as well.
“Yes, (Sexton) made it through, so that was a blessing,” said Moore. “Hopefully by next week, he’ll be a little bit better.”