BY SCOTT R. FISHER
NEW TAZEWELL -- In order to be successful each week, a team needs someone to step up and make plays. Chuckey-Doak got the big plays on Thursday night.
The Black Knights went out on the road and came away with a hard-fought 14-6 conference victory over Claiborne County. CDHS improves to 2-1 on the season and has a bye next week.
"We are happy with the win," said Black Knight head coach Aaron Christian. "It is good to win in the conference."
Chuckey-Doak came into the contest banged up and were still able to dictate the play most of the contest. Despite gaining nearly 300 yards of offense, the Black Knights had trouble getting the ball into the end zone.
The two scores were of the big kind variety. The first was an interception return and the second one a 59-yard dash by a freshman.
"We have to do a better job of scoring when we get inside the 20," Christian said. His team got within the red zone three times and never punched the ball in.
The Black Knights offense moved the football, but shot themselves in the foot with miscues. In the first half, CDHS fumbled the ball away twice and missed a long field goal attempt.
The only score of the first half came right after the second fumble by the Black Knights. Junior Rodney Greene picked off a pass and raced 32 yards for the first points of the contest. With just over five minutes before the half, Chuckey-Doak led 7-0.
"That interception was huge," Christian said. "With us not being able to stick it in the end zone, the interception gave us momentum."
In the second half, it was the offense who got in on the big plays. The Black Knights had two plays go for over 40 yards after the halftime intermission.
On its second possession of the half, Chuckey-Doak needed only three plays to increase its lead. Freshman Corey Starkweather took a hand off and burst through the line untouched and sprinted 59 yards to paydirt.
With a 14-0 lead, the Black Knights relied on senior Nic Alexander to carry the load the rest of the way. Alexander's number was called 23 times on Thursday and he collected 88 yards on the ground.
"We count on our senior leadership," Christian said "We wanted to control the clock. Tonight it had to be Nick."
The defense was a huge factor for the Black Knights. The Bulldogs were limited to less than 100 yards of offense in each half. Claiborne County managed only 137 total yards.
The Knights also forced three turnovers. Greene had two interceptions and sophomore Daniel Ridlin recovered a fumble in the first quarter.
The touchdown scored by the Bulldogs was more a result of a miscue by the offense than the defense being beaten. Claiborne took advantage of a bad snap on a punt deep in the Chuckey-Doak zone.
The Bulldogs ran three times and scored with 1:01 left in the game. The drive started on the 12 yard line of the Black Knights.
Offensively, Chuckey-Doak was led by Alexander's 88 yards rushing. Starkweather added 82 yards thanks in large part to that long touchdown run.
Junior Kris HInkle was four of eight passing for 72 yards. His big pass was a 42-yard bomb to Greene.
Even though the Black Knights are now back over the .500 mark, Coach Christian is glad his squad gets a breather next week.
"We have an off week next week and it could not come at a better time," Christian said. "We are trying to get healthy."
The injuries have prevented the Black Knights from truly finding out how good they can be, Christian said,
"I think we will come out after the off week and have a strong finish to the second half of the season," he said.