- Travis Dockery
Hayesville comes up short in a wild one against Robbinsville
The Hayesville Yellow Jacket varsity football team entered Frank R. Long Memorial stadium for the final regular game of the season on Friday, Oct. 28 as they hosted the Robbinsville Black Knights.
Hayesville entered the contest with a 5-4 record while the Knights sat at 6-3. When the final horn echoed through the HHS campus, the Jackets found themselves on the wrong end of a 21-9 score.
Hayesville got things going with a short kickoff and the Knights started their first drive from their own 43 yard line. The Jackets stepped on defense, forcing a punt. Unfortunately, Hayesville couldn't capitalize as a Robbinsville defender made an acrobatic catch for an interception on the third play of the drive.
The Black Knights closed in on the goal line, finding them just 7 yards short of a score. Once again Hayesville's defense played strong, forcing a turnover on downs. Defense was the theme of the first quarter as neither team scored.
Early on in the second quarter, the Jackets snuffed out a Robbinsville fake punt for another turnover on downs. Hayesville couldn't turn that into points and on their next possession, the Knights established their running game and with 6:06 left in the half, Robbinsville found the end zone. The 2-point conversion was good, extending the Knights lead to 8-0.
Following the score, Hayesville's offense came alive and quarterback Logan Caldwell led the Jackets down the field. The drive slowed and with 16 seconds left before the break, coach Chad McClure sent out the kicking team. Isaac Chandler's kick was true, cutting Robbinsville's lead to 8-3. That's the way the half ended.
Hayesville received the kick to start the second half and started from their own 27 yard line. The drive stalled, bringing Avery Leatherwood on to punt. Leatherwood rocked a 57-yard kick. Couple that with a block in the back penalty and Robbinsville was forced to start on their own 9 yard line. Hayesville's defense played big and the Knights had to punt the ball back to the home team.
After the Jackets failed to move the ball, Robbinsville once again took over. The Knights appeared to score but a block in the back erased the potential points. With 10 seconds left in the third quarter, Robbinsville found the end zone to make the score 14-3. The Black Knights went for a 2-point conversion, but Asher Brown and Taylor McClure teamed up to stop the Robbinsville runner to end the quarter.
The final quarter opened with with a big pass from Caldwell to McClure followed up with another long pass to Kyle Lunsford. That put the Jackets on Robbinsville's 29 yard line. Penalties and busted plays led to another punt from Hayesville's Leatherwood.
Robbinsville's drive stalled, causing the Knight's to punt. On Hayesville's first play from scrimmage, Caldwell launched a bomb to McClure who caught it at midfield for a first down. On a huge fourth down play, Caldwell found Lunsford to pick up the needed 17 yards plus more. Momentum stayed with the Jackets as McClure raced to the end zone to grab a 35-yard touchdown pass from Caldwell with 5:35 left to play. A 2-point conversion attempt was no good, making the score 14-9 with Robbinsville leading.
The Knights answered with a well-manufactured drive down the field. Hayesville made two strong goal line stands, causing Robbinsville to call a time out. With 1:53 left to play, the Knights finally found a hole and punched in another touchdown. The PAT was good, making the score 21-9.
Hayesville had one last chance but following a fourth down incompletion and confusion from the officials, Robbinsville took possession and a knee to run out the clock and seal the 21-9 win.
Even with the loss, the Yellow Jackets should host a round 1 state playoff game.