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Harper leads Jackets back to state title game

Staff Reports • Dec 15, 2015 at 1:50 PM

KNOXVILLE — For a matchup that seemed predestined, it came down to a fitting end.

Kenyan Harper had four touchdown runs, blocked a crucial extra-point attempt and also had the game-clinching defensive play as Trousdale County beat Grace Christian 34-27 in a Class 2A state semifinal battle of unbeatens Friday night.

The win puts the Yellow Jackets in the Class 2A BlueCross Bowl, where they will gun for the school's 10th state football title at 11 a.m. next Saturday at Tennessee Tech's Tucker Stadium in Cookeville. Trousdale, which won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009, will play Adamsville for the championship.

Grace, which had been atop The Associated Press' Class 2A state poll the entire year, finished its season 12-1.

Harper, who ran 24 times for 211 yards as a running back, staked the Yellow Jackets to a 14-0 lead before Grace rallied to tie the game at 21 by halftime.

But Harper, who has 39 touchdowns this season, saved his best for last.

He had a 19-yard touchdown run to open the second-half scoring for the Yellow Jackets, giving them a 27-21 lead.

After Grace tied the game with a touchdown run of its own, Harper blocked the Rams' extra-point attempt to leave the game tied.

Harper then added a 2-yard touchdown in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, putting Trousdale ahead, 34-27.

But Harper wasn't done yet. Neither was drama.

After an exchange of several punts, Grace took over late in Yellow Jackets' territory and drove to the Trousdale 11-yard line in the waning moments. But after three plays netted only three yards, the Rams were forced to pass on fourth down.

Harper broke up the attempt, sealing the win -- and a berth in the state-title game.

The Yellow Jackets' opponent, Adamsville, beat Trinity Christian 49-39 in Friday's other semifinal. Adamsville lost to Friendship Christian in last year's 2A state title game.

Trousdale County 34, Grace Christian 27

Trousdale County 14 7 6 7—34

Grace Christian 0 216 0—27

First quarter

Trousdale—Harper 25 run (Lauderdale kick)

Trousdale—Harper 5 run (Lauderdale kick)

Second quarter

Grace—Inman 12 run (Sexson kick)

Grace—Kelly 27 pass from Inman (Sexson)

Trousdale—Blackwell 5 run (Lauderdale kick)

Grace— McReynolds 1 run (Sexson kick)

Third quarter

Trousdale—Harper 19 run (kick failed)

Grace—McReynolds 1 run (kick blocked)

Fourth quarter

Trousdale—Harper 2 run (Lauderdale kick)

Trousdale County Grace Christian

First downs 15 15

Rushes-Yards 52-388 43-154

Passing Yards 24 96

Passes 2-4-0 8-14-0

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-0

Penalties-Yards 3-30 0-0

Individual Statistics

Rushing—Trousdale County: Harper 24-211. Blackwell 11-72. Claiborne 11-70, Dallas 5-26.

Passing—Trousdale: Claiborne 2-4-0—24.

Receiving—Trousdale: Harper 2-24.

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