CHURCH HILL – The Hawkins County Headhunters avenged their loss to Grainger County last year with a 12-6 victory over the Pioneers in the annual “Battle for Clinch Mountain” alumni football game Saturday night at Volunteer High School.
Former Volunteer running back Tyler Rogers (Class of 2016) scored both Headhunters touchdowns to earn Offensive MVP and Overall MVP.
“We really want to thank the Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson, Volunteer Athletic Director Jimmy Whalen and Volunteer Principal Bobby Wines for giving us the okay to play at Volunteer,” said Hawkins County coach and game organizer Dougie Sawyer.
“We wouldn’t have been able to play otherwise. Because of them, it gave the older guys one more chance to put on the football pads,” Sawyer said.
Those pads were put on about 45 minutes later than planned due to a snafu by Alumni Football USA, the organization that helps stage these games, who sent the equipment to Rutledge instead of Church Hill.
Despite the late start, the small but spirited crowd was treated to a competitive football game between the visiting Grainger Pioneers, who won last year’s contest in Grainger County, 34-0, and the Hawkins County Headhunters, a group of former Cherokee and Volunteer players.
After a scoreless first period, Hawkins County finally got on the board at the 7:28 mark of the second quarter when Rogers broke loose for a 25-yard touchdown run. After a failed kick, the Headhunters led, 6-0.
Late in the half, Rogers broke free again, breaking tackles to the outside and then running down the right sideline 60 yards for a score. After a failed run, Hawkins County led, 12-0, a lead it would take into halftime 35 seconds later.
Donald Brooks, who took over at quarterback in the second quarter when Grainger County’s Dusty Roach had to leave the field with an injured foot, scored the Pioneers’ lone touchdown on a three-yard keeper with 5:12 left in the game.
Brooks nearly tied the score on the last play of the game, but was shoved out of bounds at the two-yard line by Hawkins County’s Matt Christian with three-tenths of a second on the clock.
However, since both teams had agreed at halftime to keep a running clock in the second half, time ran out before either team could line up for another play, ending the game.
Tim Drinnon (Volunteer Class of 2004) was named defensive MVP. Brook Bowery (Volunteer Class of 2011) was named special teams MVP. Brian Davis (Cherokee Class of 1992) was the game’s oldest player (46).