By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
For Tazewell, Jacob McReynolds was "Sweet 16" in more ways than one Friday night.
McReynolds, who gained 191 yards on 34 carries, kicked three extra points, was in on seven tackles defensively, and punted once for 40 yards, scored all 27 points in Tazewell's 27-26 Southwest District win over visiting Carroll County.
The victory, Tazewell's first in 19 games, was the first Bulldog win since October 2010 at Marion and the first home triumph since defeating Marion 17-7 at Bulldog Stadium in '09. McReynolds put together a career night with great help from his friends to make it happen.
First, the junior standout put Tazewell ahead with a four-yard first quarter score after having gained all 65 yards in the nine-play drive.
With the Bulldogs trailing 20-6, McReynolds scored again in the third stanza on a three-yard burst and then kicked the PAT. Down 26-13 moments later, McReynolds found paydirt for Tazewell from two yards out and drilled another point after.
His fourth quarter four-yard touchdown tied the score and the 5-9, 178-pound gridder kicked the decisive extra point with 6:22 to play.
He admits, "At that point, we were all still playing our hearts out but when the game finally ended, a lot of us didn't really know what to do — it had been so long since we won, we really couldn't remember what that felt like."
As always, however, the loyal Tazewell fans, cheerleaders, and band all rushed toward the players and a tearful celebration on Witten Field gave rooters a chance to enjoy a new beginning and the first victory for head coach Shane Allen. He, too, was proud of the effort.
"Jacob has been a consistent runner for us all year," noted Allen. "He's played everywhere — fullback, the 'H back' in the 'I' formation, a wide out in the spread formation, and on special teams. He kicks off and punts. The only time he's not on the field is for the kickoff team.
“Friday night, he got hit after about three yards on every carry, so that tells you how many yards he was able to get after that initial contact.
It was a great night for him and a great night for the team."
McReynolds praised his offensive blockers, especially Carter Rasnick and Guye Turner.
"They (Turner and Rasnick) were making holes for me all night long," said McReynolds. "I can't say enough about the entire offensive line. We had a new center, Brandon Asbury, and he was great in his first start.
“Whatever I did, the Lord helped me, and the line was fantastic. Give credit to Mikey Wright, Garrett Jessee, Nick Goad, and Alan Rose. They played their best game, too.”
Turner, sporting a mohawk haircut he promised to wear if Tazewell won, said, “Jacob always runs hard and he never takes a play off. You don’t mind blocking for him. I am glad he got this honor. It’s been big for the whole team. People I don’t even know have been saying ‘congratulations’ all week. It’s been wonderful.”
Rasnick added, “I block as hard as I can every play and when a runner like Jacob gets going, he makes me look better, too. He does a great job. He was thanking his blockers while the game was going on. On that last touchdown, I was the first person he came to. I am happy for him and for our team.”
Battling injuries, the experience-short Bulldogs had senior quarterback Cody McCann back against Carroll, and Asbury in at center, which gave McReynolds and the offense some work to do during the week.
“We seemed to mess up a lot of handoffs, and coordination in practice but once the game started, everybody was pretty smooth and we got the job done,” he laughed.
McReynolds said, “I run hard. I had to take a few plays off and I thought I had separated my shoulder, but Doc (Eric) Shrader told me it was a pinched nerve. I went right back in and just played through the pain in that fourth quarter but I was not feeling any pain.
He concluded, “Even though we were down on the scoreboard a couple of times, we were never ‘down’ in the huddle — everything was positive. We just kept picking each other up all game long.”
McReynolds & Co. picked up the entire town with their dramatic victory.