Unaka took a big step forward on Friday night.
The Rangers captured a crucial Region 1-A victory on Senior Night with a 24-14 win over Jellico on Friday night at Goddard Field.
The win improves Unaka to 2-1 on the season and 2-0 in Region 1-A play and allows the Rangers to play for a Region 1-A Championship at Cloudland on Oct. 2.
Friday night saw the two teams battled from the opening kick.
Junior Daniel Shearl jumpstarted the game as he intercepted a Jellico pass midway through the first quarter. The junior took full advantage as he scored on a 12-yard run to give UHS a 6-0 lead.
After the Ranger defense stopped Jellico on fourth down in Ranger territory, Unaka was unable to get anything going. Shearl struck again for the Rangers in the closing minute of the quarter as he intercepted a Jellico pass and returned it 68 yards for the touchdown to give UHS a 12-0 lead after a quarter of play.
Early in the second quarter, Jellico broke onto the scoreboard and added a two-point conversion to close the Unaka lead to 12-8. The Rangers were able to drive inside the Jellico 10 on the ensuing possession but was stopped on fourth down.
Unaka held a 12-8 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, the Rangers methodically marched down the field on the opening drive of the second half. Shearl scored his third overall touchdown of the night – this one on a three-yard run – to give the Rangers a 10-point lead.
The teams traded possessions over the rest of the quarter as Unaka maintained an 18-8 lead after three complete quarters.
The Blue Devils started the fourth quarter inside the Unaka 10, but Jamol Blamo picked off a Jellico pass to end the drive. Unaka extended the lead once again with just over seven minutes to play as Daniel Shearl scored on a 12-yard run.
After Jellico closed the lead back to 10 points, the Ranger defense held strong and iced the win with a Devin Ramsey interception with just over two minutes to play.
Shearl had a night as he had 35 carries for 321 yards while nabbing two interceptions and six total tackles. Ramsey was 5-of-13 passing for 72 yards.
Defensively, Drew Smith had 11 total tackles – including two for loss.