E.A. Sports Today

21 not enough

Cherokee County jumps out quickly, but loses momentum; second-half rally lifts Hokes Bluff over Warriors

Cherokee County quarterback Tyren Dupree runs behind his blockers in the first half Friday night. (Photo by Shannon Fagan)

Cherokee County quarterback Tyren Dupree runs behind his blockers in the first half Friday night. (Photo by Shannon Fagan)

By Shannon Fagan
Cherokee County Herald

CENTRE (Nov. 18) – The beginning of Friday’s Class 4A football state quarterfinal game against the Hokes Bluff Eagles couldn’t have begun any better for the Cherokee County Warriors. A pair of touchdown runs by junior quarterback Tyren Dupree gave them a two-score advantage.

But momentum slowly began to shift in Hokes Bluff’s favor toward the end of the first half, and the game turned into a nightmare for the Warriors on their first offensive play of the third quarter.

With 8:24 remaining, Dupree hobbled back to the huddle and had to be helped off the field with an apparent ankle injury. He was taken to a local hospital for further treatment and did not return as the Eagles rallied for a 28-21 victory.

Hokes Bluff (9-4), which began the season at 0-3 (including a 30-7 loss to the Warriors), advance to next Friday’s state semifinals where they will host Madison Academy (10-3). Cherokee County’s season ends at 10-3.

“Sometimes when you get up 14-0 and it looks like you’re fixing to blow a team away, you kind of disintegrate and deflate,” Warriors coach Tripp Curry said. “They started getting momentum, and that’s what I told our coaches over the headsets. They had the mojo at the end, and that’s what counts. We lost the mojo at the end. They had it and they capitalized on it.”

Up until his injury, Dupree was having another of his stellar performances. He finished with 98 yards on 13 carries, including a dazzling 54-yard touchdown run on just the third play of the game.

After an interception by Warrior junior linebacker Riley Russell at the Hokes Bluff 35, Dupree put the Warriors up 14-0 on a 1-yard touchdown leap with 56.4 seconds left in the first quarter. He also completed five of his 10 pass attempts for 85 yards.

“It was a run-pass combo (play),” Curry said. “We got maybe a yard, then all of a sudden, he turned his ankle. I don’t know what happened.”

Hokes Bluff had already taken momentum before Dupree’s injury.
Junior quarterback Landon Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown run with 8:30 remaining in the first half and Andrew Colley’s extra point cut the Warrior lead in half at 14-7.

The Eagles received the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 75 yards in eight plays to tie the game on senior running back Fisher Simmons’ 26-yard touchdown run with 8:51 in the third quarter.

After Dupree’s injury, sophomore quarterback Caden Hubbard came in to direct the Warrior offense and produced a 49-yard scoring strike to Quartez Henderson to regain the lead with 5:14 left in the third quarter.

Hokes Bluff tied it at 21 on freshman running back Darrian Meads to tie the score again at 21 with 2:51 remaining in the third. Meads rushed for 195 yards on 26 carries.

Johnson, who completed 5-of-8 pass attempts for 72 yards, threw for his second score of the night to open the fourth quarter. This was a 6-yard pass to Braydon Hill to give Hokes Bluff its first lead of the game 28-21.

“Hokes Bluff plays good defense, and 21 points is just not enough for our offense,” Curry said. “We should have scored a few more, and we didn’t stop them defensively when we had a chance to put them away. Hokes Bluff’s got a good football team. They’re coming around and they proved it tonight. They’ll be a formidable opponent next week.

“It’s tough playing anybody twice (in a season). I didn’t think we overlooked them. I thought we were focused, but then I thought we lost focus a little bit going up 14-0. We weren’t focused on taking care of the ball game. I told our guys on the headsets we need to go up 21-0 before they make it 14-7. We didn’t do that, and they capitalized on all of the mistakes.”

Shannon Fagan is sports editor of the Cherokee County Herald

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