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Claiborne’s Bulldogs have put themselves in good position to rack up a regional football championship, or at least a share of it, by thumping the homestanding Chuckey-Doak Black Knights 37-6 Friday night at “The Black Hole.”

Claiborne, enjoying one of their finest grid campaigns in years, improved their record to 7-1 overall, 3-1 in league play, and moved into a tie in the loss column with the Black Knights at the top of the Region 1-3A standings. Chuckey-Doak drops to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the league. Claiborne’s league loss was to Johnson County, a conference foe that the Knights beat earlier this season.

The Bulldogs used a three-prong offensive attack with jersey numbers 2, 3 and 4 to put away the Knights. No. 4 is quarterback Eli Stone, No. 3 is tailback Storm Livesay, and No. 2 is fellow back Jimmy Del Ervin. The three combined for 365 yards rushing on the night, led by Livesay with 220 yards and three touchdowns.

The Black Knights, who have not played during the past two weeks due to COVID issues within the football community, were not at their sharpest on this night. They moved the ball well in the middle of the field, but except for one long touchdown run by Evan Murvin, they could not come up with enough big plays to keep them in the contest.

Murvin finished the night with 119 yards rushing, including a 60-yard touchdown sprint for C-D’s only score of the game. But the normally good passing attack of the Knights did not materialize as Matthew Palazzo could only hit 6-of-21 passes and he had two aerials picked off.

Claiborne drove quickly to score on their first possession of the night as Livesay and Stone ate up huge chunks of real estate, with Livesay getting the touchdown on a 10-yard run, culminating a 62-yard drive in six plays. Alex Bailey kicked the PAT for a quick 7-0 lead with 6:52 left in the first period.

Chuckey-Doak immediately got a good drive going, starting at their 33 and getting three first downs before the march stalled at the Bulldogs’ 28 on fourth down.

Claiborne took over at that point and went on a 71-yard, 10 play drive that resulted in a 16-yard touchdown run by Del Ervin. The PAT failed.

Chuckey-Doak then held the ball for over seven minutes but could come away with no points. The Knights ran 15 plays, but on the 16th play of the drive, Palazzo’s pass was intercepted by Stone, playing safety on defense, and he returned it 80 yards for a “pick six” that put C-D into a deep hole at 19-0 with 1:16 left in the half.

Palazzo completed his longest pass of the night, a 29-yarder to Conner Lamons, which gave the home team some life just before intermission. But another pass interception killed the drive and the halftime score remained at 19-0.

The Bulldogs threatened to score on the second half kickoff when Challen Massengill returned the kick from his 20 all the way to the C-D 11. But the Knights’ hunkered down on defense and stopped the Bulldogs at the 3 on fourth down.

The two teams traded lost fumbles later in the period before Livesay broke loose on a 67-yard touchdown run with 1:36 left, giving Claiborne a 25-0 lead after the PAT, the only thing on the night that the Bulldogs did not do well, failed.

Chuckey-Doak finally got something to cheer about seconds later when Murvin got into the clear and showed off his speed by outrunning defenders 60 yards to paydirt. The PAT failed but the hosts were on the board, trailing 25-7.

Unfortunately for the home team, that would be all the fireworks they could muster on this night. Claiborne got two more fourth quarter scores, one on an 11-yard run by Del Ervin and the final one on a 19-yard run by Livesay, his third of the contest.

Chuckey-Doak had 255 yards of offense, led by Murvin with 119 rushing. Palazzo’s six pass completions netted 81 yards.

The 365 yards rushing piled up by Livesay, Del Ervin and Stone accounted for all of Claiborne’s offensive output.

Next week Claiborne hosts Cumberland Gap before closing out their regular season with a league game at North Greene. Chuckey-Doak will play a league game at Unicoi County next Friday, then close out their regular season at home to rival West Greene in another regional contest.

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