By TONY STINNETT/ Courier Sports Editor
Years of frustration and heartache were put to rest when Cannon County’s football team turned back Red Boiling Springs, 28-25, on the road Friday (Sept. 13).
The Lions ended a 22-game losing streak dating back to 2010 and they had lost 31-of-32 dating back to 2009.
Cannon County (1-2) ran roughshod over the Bulldogs (1-2), rushing for 328 yards and four scores. B.J. Daniel led the ground attack with a career-high 167 yards on just 16 carries. He scored on touchdown runs of 40 and 63 yards.
Little brother A.J. Daniel accounted for the other two touchdowns, rushing for scores of 10 and 28 yards. He finished with 46 yards on six carries. Both Daniel brothers forced a fumble.
Junior Wilder Mankin also kicked into overdrive, rushing for 85 yards on six carries. Jonathon Smith had 30 yards on eight carries and also was a defensive force.
“This feeling is ... breathtaking,” Smith said. “We have lost so much you start to wonder if you know how to win. Now we know how to win. It is a great feeling and it was a team win. It took everyone of us to get this win.”
It was a milestone victory for first-year Lions Head Coach T.J. Daniel as he notched his first career win.
“This win is for Cannon County,” Coach Daniel said. “Our fans have showed great support and they enjoyed this win. It’s for our community. The team played well and showed great poise on the road to earn the victory.”
Cannon County took a 21-13 lead into the half after B.J. Daniel had two game-turning plays just before the break.
Tied 13-13, Red Boiling Springs had driven to the Lions’ 31 and was looking to take the lead when B.J. Daniel stripped the ball, which was recovered by Bo Bryson.
Two plays later B.J. Daniel sprinted 63 yards down the right sideline for the touchdown. He added the 2-point conversion run and the Lions led 21-13 with 43 seconds remaining in the half.
The would not relinquish the lead, playing dominating defense and utilizing a ground attack that kept the chains and clock moving. The Lions did not have a turnover for the first time in three games, while forcing three.
A.J. Daniel also forced a fumble that was recovered by Nick Lacerte, who also had a tackle for loss and a sack.
Cannon County sealed the win when Jeremy Litchford hauled in his first career interception with 7:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.
B.J. Daniel scored his second touchdown - a 40 yard run - with 6:39 remaining to provide a 28-13 lead.
Case Isenhart continued his outstanding defensive play and Bo Bryson and Dalton Ryan were solid. Ethan Smith also continued to impose his defensive will.
“Everyone contributed and it’s a great feeling to win,” B.J. Daniel said. “The offensive line opened big holes and we were able to control the ground game. Defensively, we just got after it and was able to keep from giving up the big plays.”
Cannon County fell behind 7-0 after Red Boiling Springs scored on its opening drive. The Lions tied when A.J. Daniel scored from 10 yards out with 2:35 remaining. Simon Morey added the point after to tie the score 7-7. David Fonoti had a great block to spring the touchdown. The Lions offensive line, led by Dalton Ryan, Bo Bryson, Daniel Davis, David Fonoti, Micah Fonoti and Jacob Duggin, controlled the line of scrimmage.
After the Bulldogs took a 13-7 lead, A.J. Daniel capped a long drive with a 28-yard run to tie the score 13-13 with 5:56 remaining before the half.
B.J. Daniel added the two second-half scores for the Lions.
Cannon County is at DeKalb County Friday.