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Corky Kell Classic: Early mistakes cost Cherokee Bluff in 38-23 loss to Kell
Cherokee Bluff's Caleb Cooper (47) runs with the ball against Kell in the Corky Kell Classic on Aug. 17, 2022 in Johns Creek. - photo by Bill Murphy

Cherokee Bluff football coach Tommy Jones was able to find the positives in Wednesday’s 38-23 loss to Kell in the Corky Kell Classic at Johns Creek High. 

Despite a slew of mistakes, mostly early in the game, the Bears continued to battle for all four quarters. 

And even when the game was locked up for the Longhorns late in the fourth quarter, Cherokee Bluff came back with one final big play as senior Jhace Justice hauled in a pass and took it 68 yards for a touchdowns with 29 seconds left in the game. 

“First and foremost, I am proud of our effort and resiliency,” Jones said. “We battled for four quarters, but made way too many mistakes. However, tomorrow’s a new day.”

That kind of optimism is appropriate since the Bears (0-1) have been one of the most consistent football programs in Hall County the past couple of seasons. 

And, despite a loss in the showcase opener, Cherokee Bluff’s coach remains optimistic that it will put a contender on the field for the eight games that will determine which four teams will go to the playoffs in Region 8-4A. 

Justice turned in a stellar performance for the Bears, catching four passes for 93 yards. 

In addition to the touchdown, he had a nice sideline grab late in the first half as the Bears were able to momentarily cut into a 16-point hole. 

After going down by 22 points early in the third quarter, the Bears responded with quarterback Asher Wilson’s 1-yard scoring run. 

Wilson had Cherokee Bluff’s first touchdown run late in the first half, also a run from the 1. 

Wilson completed 13 of 23 throws for 142 yards. 

However, it was the turnovers that cost the Bears a chance to ever get any momentum. 

On the game’s first drive, Cherokee Bluff’s running back fumbled the ball and Kell’s Sawain Simmons picked it up and took it 54 yards for a touchdown. 

Then with a 7-3 lead, Kell’s Bryce Clavon hit TJ Murray for an 8-yard scoring pass late in the first quarter. 

Cherokee Bluff’s only other points came when Michael Arbour was good on a 35-yard field goal late in the first quarter. 

Despite the loss, the Bears plan to quickly turn the page with only one more non-region game remaining. 

Up next, Cherokee Bluff visits Adairsville on Aug. 26. 

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