By Trey Williams
There were big expectations for Unicoi County quarterback Brock Thompson’s senior season, but fate can be quite a load to shoulder.
Thompson has battled a non-throwing shoulder injury since suffering it in the second game of the season, and it’s hamstrung him every time he seems ready to get on track.
Thompson went over 4,000 career passing yards last week in a win against West Greene and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from receiver Jordan Bridges to give the Blue Devils a 7-6 lead in a key Region 1-5A matchup against Chuckey-Doak on Friday, Oct. 23, at Gentry Stadium.
But before you knew it, Thompson had aggravated the injury, and the Black Knights (3-1, 5-3) pulled away for a 43-21 victory.
Unicoi County (2-2, 4-4) was playing for the right to host a first round playoff game. Now, it’ll have to defeat Johnson County (3-1, 5-4) on Friday in Erwin to avoid a first round date with powerful Alcoa.
The Longhorns handed league-leading Claiborne its lone conference loss.
Thompson’s status is questionable for Johnson County.
“It certainly hasn’t been the year we planned for him,” Unicoi County coach Drew Rice said. “His touchdown (reception) was a reverse pass by Jordan Bridges. Jordan threw a perfect ball on it.
“Brock aggravated his shoulder in the first half and it got worse as the game went on. So we went with Bryson (Peterson) in the second half. I thought Bryson played well.”
Thompson finished 13 of 22 passing for 63 yards. Peterson completed 6 of 10 passes for 69 yards.
Coach Ben Murphy’s Black Knights rushed for well in excess of 300 yards en route to their first win in Erwin in 10 years. The Blue Devils also threw two interceptions in the first half, lost an untimely fumble and allowed an 81-yard Kendall Barner kick return for a touchdown.
“We made too many mistakes to beat a good team,” Rice said. “We shot ourselves in the foot all night. I was very disappointed in how sloppy we were for it to be this late in the season.”
The game was more competitive than the final score might suggest. Nehemiah Edwards’ 35-yard touchdown and Esteban Mendoza’s PAT pulled Unicoi County within 20-14 with 7:06 left in the third quarter.
And with 10:09 remaining in the game, Unicoi County got within 28-21 on a 4-yard run from Edwards and Mendoza’s PAT.
Edwards finished with 67 yards on 10 carries.
Unicoi had the ball in the red zone five times in the first half against Chuckey-Doak, but only scored once. The Blue Devils also gave up another long kick return in the second half.
Rice is eager to see how his team bounces back in the regular season finale.
“We would be assured the three seed with a win this week,” Rice said. “We are going to get back to work this week and hopefully put a better product on the field.”