It was the first game of the season Tuesday night for both Coffee County and Tullahoma middle schools. And it showed.
Both teams combined to fumble the ball 16 times and turn it over seven times in a sloppy affair that Tullahoma managed to win 22-6 at Carden-Jarrell Field in Manchester.
"Offensively, we have to secure the ball better than that, obviously," said Coffee County Middle School head coach Bryan Morgan after the game. "We are going to get back to work and get our center-quarterback exchange fixed, and work on our ball security."
Neither team was particularly sharp - but Tullahoma (1-0 overall) was lucky enough to fall on more of the loose balls than Coffee County (0-1). The Red Raiders put the ball on the ground eight times, most coming on center-quarterback exchanges, and lost three of them. CMS also turned the ball over twice on interceptions in the second half. Meanwhile, Tullahoma put the ball on the ground eight times, but only lost two to the Raider defense. (story continues below video)
Tullahoma finished with 155 total yards. The Raiders managed to piece together just 74 yards on the offensive side of the ball.
"I think this game was probably closer than it looked," added Morgan. "Defensively, we lost contain a couple of times and gave up some big plays, but overall I thought we played really well on that side of the ball."
It was big plays that did most of the damage for the Wildcats. Jaxon Sheffield struck first on a 4th-and-8 play that looked to be bottled up, but Sheffield bounced outside for a 36 yard score to put the Wildcats in front early in the second quarter.
Sheffield finished with 78 yards rushing on 13 totes. He was 0-1 passing. He scored a second touchdown in the third quarter from 6-yards out, a play that was set up on a tipped pass that was caught by Charlie Pierce, who rumbled 40-yards inside the Raider 10-yard line.
Tullahoma's other score was a 26-yard run by Caiden Allsopp.
"Those big plays hurt us. But we can make adjustments and fix that."
Offensively, the Raiders did show signs of life in the second quarter. Travis Martin capped a 5-play scoring drive with a 2-yard rumble to pull CMS to within 16-6. Martin led the Raider offense with 47 yards on 9 carries, including runs of 15 and 23.