ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Blue Devils were staring at a 19-point deficit to region foe Claiborne at halftime on Friday night.
“We put ourselves in a huge hole,” head coach Drew Rice said. “They just kind of kept the ball away from us and took advantage of some of the spots we put ourselves in.”
But, the deficit didn’t last.
“We came out of halftime and just got it firing,” sophomore quarterback Kolby Jones said. “We got a big touchdown coming out of halftime.”
A 53-yard toss from Jones, plus a lucky bounce, started the ball rolling for Unicoi County. The out-scored the home squad 34-6 in the second half to secure a 41-32 victory over the Bulldogs.
“Coming out with that win there was really big,” Jones remarked.
The maestro of the comeback was none other than the underclassman, Jones.
“He just kind of took the game over,” Rice recalled.
Jones completed 26-of-36 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns – with three of those scores coming in the second half.
“They were just giving us the short game, so we just capitalized on that,” he said.
Jones started the year behind a pair of senior signal-callers on the depth chart. But, his patience and poise have helped him earn the job under center.
And he’s shown that poise beyond the gridiron, as well.
“He contributed very, very significantly last year on the baseball and basketball teams as a freshman,” Rice explained. “I think his experience there certainly help kind of provide some of that composure.”
But, for the sophomore, his rise to starting quarterback has come from handling his business as usual.
“I just had to keep working, when my time came, I just had to play my game and just do what I could do.”
After Friday’s result, the Blue Devils have a chance to check off when of their preseason goals – to host a playoff game. They can do just that with wins in their remaining two contests this season, starting with Chuckey-Doak on Thursday.
“If we stay physical, keep working, just play our game, I think we’ve got a big chance to play [well],” Jones said.
Kickoff against the Black Knights is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Gentry Stadium.