BY BRIAN HAMILTON
KNOXVILLE – Jefferson County lost a heartbreaker at Halls Friday night, as the Patriots allowed a de-facto game winning kick return for a score and missed a potential game-winning field goal in the waning minutes of a 34-33 loss to the Red Devils.
Halls got on the board first when Cameron Bates found the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead with 5:45 left in the first quarter.
The Red Devils’ D.J. Hunt broke off several solid runs later in the first, followed by a 54-yard touchdown pass from Connor Cummings to Camden Johnson for a 14-0 lead after one quarter of play.
Jefferson County would cut the deficit to 14-13 with a pick six with 8:45 left in the second quarter, as the extra-point attempt was blocked.
The Patriots would take a 20-14 lead with 2:26 before halftime, but a 77-yard touchdown pass from Cummings to Johnson would allow the Red Devils to tie the game at 20-20 just before halftime.
Bates ran into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:52 left in the third quarter, which gave Halls a 27-20 advantage.
A touchdown by Jefferson County would knot the score again at 27-27 with 2:30 left in the third. The Patriots would regain the lead 33-27 with 6:16 to play, but the extra-point was blocked.
Nolan Foust returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and the extra point was successful, giving the Red Devils a 34-33 advantage with 6:02 left.
Jefferson County had a potential game-winning field goal blocked, preserving the 34-33 win for Halls.
“That kick return can’t happen and we have to make our field goals,” Jefferson County head coach Spencer Riley said. “We missed an extra-point and a field goal and those points left on the field ultimately helped decide the final score.
The Patriots (2-2) will host Morristown East (0-4) in a Class 6A Region 1 matchup Friday night, while Halls (2-2) will host Cocke County (1-3) in a Class 5A Region 2 bout.