Penalties and discipline haunt Jags in homecoming loss 

It was not great to be a Jaguar fan on Friday night. On an evening filled with homecoming festivities, the Cedar Shoals football team fell short 36-23 against the Cherokee Bluff Bears, giving up over 120 yards in penalties.

“We were undisciplined and it (penalties) stems from undisciplined private habits, in the hallways and the classroom. If you are undisciplined in life and in general, you won’t play well. We practiced this stuff all week long, but we did the same thing regardless,” Head Coach Leroy Ryals said.

The Jags fell behind early, with a rushing touchdown from senior running back Connor Husley, the first of four total rushing touchdowns by the Bears. 

Three-and-outs headlined the offense, with the Jags only possessing the ball for 20 minutes throughout the game. Instead, the Bears controlled the clock with long, methodical drives, rushing for 255 yards.

“They (Cherokee Bluff) are a very physical and well-coached football team. We knew that coming in and did what we could. We’re very thin right now,” Ryals said.

With two offensive linemen leaving the team before the game, and senior Cemerious Kay suspended after consecutive personal fouls, the Jags’ offensive line allowed three sacks, seven hustles and five tackles for loss. 

“We didn’t block for A.J. (Hubbard). We had some new guys on the line, they went the wrong way, missed some blocks. It was tough,” Ryals said.

Despite these struggles, the offense still put up a season-high 23 points, with 12 coming from senior wide receiver and Furman-commit Devin Hester.

“They tried to double him, and he still was able to catch some balls. It shows what kind of talent he has. He started the game a little too excited, and got a penalty for it,” Ryals said. “The kid has so much pressure on him; he has to try to relax and enjoy the moment. A verbal commitment is a nice accolade, but nothing is set in stone until you sign the dotted line in December, you can still lose offers.”

Hauling in four catches for 106 yards, Hester recorded his second-highest total of the season and accounted for 44.9% of the Jags’ offensive yardage. The running back duo of senior Kayden Scott and junior Taiwan Green picked up an additional 81 yards, and senior quarterback Anthony Hubbard ran for 31, including a 35-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.

With regional powerhouse North Oconee looming, the Jags will need to be flawless to pull off the upset victory.

“We know what plays they (North Oconee) are going to run from film, but I’m 53 years old. I’m not going to throw one pass, catch one ball, make one tackle, its up to the team,” Ryals said. “We just need to execute a little better and be more disciplined.” 

Ethan Greene

Senior Ethan Greene is the Sports editor for Cedar BluePrints this year. He runs an Instagram photography account, attends car races, and writes about sports for BluePrints. He enjoys being able to work alongside his friends and the opportunity to get a more thorough analysis of sports.

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