Bulldogs too tough for Panthers, win rivalry game 55-13.

October 20- Cumberland Gap played host to Claiborne High School for the 2023 version of the Battle for the River sponsored by Short Redmond Auto Group and Elevation Physical and Occupational Therapy.  Claiborne came into the game with a 2-6 record while the Panthers had a 1-7 record on the season. The Panthers also wanted to end the three-game streak of the Bulldogs, but it wasn’t meant to be.

It was a damp, cool, moist and gusty fall night when the two rivals hit the field. Josh Bolton placed the first points on the board at the 7:19 mark and Aden Roark hit the point after making it 7-0 Bulldogs, but the Panthers responded and found the endzone on a Noah Myer pass to Hunter Gibson. The PAT was good, and the game was tied at seven with 59 seconds left in the first.

Claiborne quickly answered on a Cole Jones run with 45 seconds remaining in the first. The PAT was no good, but Claiborne held a 13-7 advantage going into the second quarter. Not long into the second quarter, Jake Smith picked off a Panther pass and set up a Zay Gerrells keeper for a touchdown. The PAT was true, and Claiborne led 20-7. Brayden Painter was questionable coming into the game with a shoulder injury but with 2:09 left in the half, he sparked another Bulldogs score on a long run followed by a TD reception from Gerrells. That point after was no good and CHS led 26-7.

Claiborne’s defense was making it hard for the Panthers to move the ball and the Bulldog offense benefitted from their efforts. Jones ran in his second of the night and Bolton ran in the conversion, 34-17. On the Bulldogs kickoff, Jones ran into an open spot and beat the Panthers to the ball and recovered it. The offense was set up for another chance at a score with around a minute left on the first half clock. Jones once again found room and scored on a 35-yard run making the score 41-7. The PAT was good, and the half ended 41-7. During the break, both the CHS and CGHS bands performed.

To start the second half, Ryan Olsen found running room and went 32 yards for the Bulldogs first score of the half. The PAT was good by Roark and Claiborne extended the lead to 48-7. The Bulldogs defense continued to play well and once again the offense benefitted from it. Gavin Shelburne was in the running back spot and rushed 11-yards for what was the Bulldogs final score of the night. Roark’s PAT was good, and the visiting Bulldogs led 55-7. Noah Meyer led the Panthers down the field and scored on a keeper with 6:10 remaining. The PAT was missed, and the running clock ticked down to all zeros and Claiborne took home the convincing 55-13 victory. Following the game, the trophy was presented to Claiborne to keep until the next meeting.

In summary, useless person foul penalties could have cost the Bulldogs but they were able to overcome them with big plays. Cumberland Gap was bitten by the injury bug early and often, taking away some of their most dangerous weapons. The rivalry game was sponsored by Short Redmond Auto Group and Elevation Physical and Occupational Therapy. Thoughts and prayers go out to a game official who had a medical incident during the game.

Below are a few photos from The Zone- AE and CB.


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