(Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020 edition)

The Rhea Middle School (RMS) Eagles’ football team visited Gabbert Field, home of the Dayton City School (DCS) Sweatbees, on Thursday night, and battled to a 22-12 victory.

The Eagles used their ground game, which totaled 319 yards on 26 carries, to outlast the hosting Sweatbees. Makye Hyatte had a breakout game for RMS, as he rushed for 214 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Hyatte’s TDs were from 66 and 64 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter, Hyatte’s 66-yard TD romp came at the 7:42 mark in the second quarter. The 2-point conversion was no good and the Eagles led 6-0.

DCS answered with a 3-yard run from Ace Robison with 1:14 left before the half. Robison led the Sweatbees with 55 yards on the ground in 11 carries and his one TD.

Similar to his first long TD run, Hyatte made a few moves, avoided some tackles and raced up the RMS sideline 64 yards for his second TD of the game with 41 seconds on the clock before halftime. With the 2-point conversion run by Aleczander  “Zander” Yager, the Eagles led 14-6, and carried the lead to the locker rooms.

The third quarter went scoreless, but the Eagles found the end zone again with a 3-yard run from Kris McGinnes with 3:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. McGinnes ran in the 2-point conversion to give the Eagles a 22-6 lead. McGinnes finished the game with 92 yards rushing on nine carries.

The Sweatbees, behind the arm of quarterback, Braylon Geer, who completed 8-of-11 passes for 134 yards on the night, put together a 63-yard scoring drive in less than two minutes, capped off with a 4-yard TD pass from Geer to J.P. Brannen. The 2-point conversion attempt was no good, and with 1:28 left in the game, the Eagles led 22-12. RMS recovered the attempted DCS onside kick, and eventually ran out the clock to secure the victory.

RMS head coach, Joe Campbell, lauded his team’s effort in the much needed, confidence boosting win.

“Glad to get the win. It’s a big time confidence booster,” said Campbell of his team’s first win of the season. “We found some things we liked, and now we’ve got three games left in the season we can go and hopefully go take care of some business.

“It was a big game for Makye,” continued Campbell about his running back, Makye Hyatte, who had 214 yards rushing and two TDs. “We’ve been trying to get him loose all year. We knew what kind of speed he had. He showed it against Spring City with his kickoff return for a touchdown on the first play of the game. I’m just excited he finally got to show off his speed tonight.”

Other offensive contributors for RMS were quarterback, Kaden Knox, who finished the game with 10 yards rushing on three carries, and Yager, who had five yards on two carries, and also had a 2-point conversion.

The Sweatbees netted 54 rushing yards on 25 carries. Other contributors for the DCS running game were Chauncey Odum, who finished the game with 10 yards on four carries. Elijah Anderson, Rylin Suttles and Geer had carries but were stopped for no gains or finished with minus yards.

Geer found four receivers in his eight completions. Odum had three catches for 84 yards, as Brannen snagged two receptions for 29 yards, which included a 4-yard TD. Landon Stewart finished with two catches for 20 yards, while Robison had one catch for a yard. Brannen also had one interception at his free safety position on defense.

Leading the Eagles’ defense was Martin Campos, with seven tackles, including several for losses. Eric Galvez tallied six tackles, while Yager and McGinnes had four apiece. McGinnes also had a pass breakup. Other RMS players recording tackles included Knox, Kole Mickel, Kyzin Shelfer, Hyatt, Bryan Greene and Jaden Hyatte.

Leading the Sweatbees’ defense was Robison, who tallied six tackles. Suttles, Stewart, Brannen, Dillion Johnson and Daniel Jordan recorded four tackles apiece. Other DCS players recording tackles included Lucus Hughes, Eli Mickel, Odum, Trey McIntosh and Anderson.

DCS head coach, Jeff Hill, praised his team’s competitiveness in the close loss.

“I figured it would be a tough game,” said Hill of a hard fought game by his team. “I’m really proud of our guys, they played hard. We started out a little slow this season, but they’re starting to get their rhythm. It was a very good ball game on both sides.

“I knew a lot of the kids on the Rhea Middle side over there,” continued Hill. “This game here makes my heart melt, because I’m watching [Dayton] Little Eagle guys that I’d been seeing on both sides here, and I’m proud of our team, and I’m very of their team. It’s great, and we’ve got a good future coming up for Rhea County High School.”

The Eagles improved to 1-3 on the season, as the Sweatbees also moved to 1-3. RMS will travel to Lake Forest Middle School on Thursday, Sept. 24, while DCS travels to Harriman Middle School on the same night.