COALMONT, Tenn. — Muddy conditions kept both teams out of rhythm throughout the first half, but Grundy County's Yellow Jackets managed to find theirs faster in downing Bledsoe County 36-20 in a key District 7-AA football matchup Friday.
"It was frustrating on the conditions, missing blocks and assignments," Grundy coach Nick Bryant said. "The thing is we rebounded, came back out and focused strong in the second half. And look at them now over there having fun sliding in the mud.
"That's what it's about in a rivalry game against Bledsoe. It's a big win," Bryant added. "It was stressful, but we love it. We just need to win out to get that guaranteed playoff spot."
Grundy's Josh Rhea hit Hayden Holland on a 36-yard touchdown pass to break the scoreless deadlock with 1:02 left in the first half. The kick was blocked but Grundy led 6-0 and would not trail the rest of the night.
Rhea hit Austyn Cooper for another scoring pass and the Jackets got the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead. Bledsoe cut that in half on a Connor Boynton 7-yard run at the 3:21 mark of the third quarter.
But every time the Warriors thought they were back in it, the Yellow Jackets would respond with another score. Grundy outscored them 22-20 in the final quarter.
Rhea led Grundy with 16 carries for 118 yards and two TDs. He was also 10-for-20 in passing for 169 yards and two TDs and one interception and threw a threw a two-point pass. The hosts' Holland caught six passes for 124 yards.
Field conditions played a big role all night.
"I think it was both of our problems," Bledsoe coach Jason Reel said. "I mean it's a pretty nasty field. The weather has been on it pretty rough. The first half I think we were both trying to find traction and trying to get after it and neither one of us were doing too well.
"The second half Grundy County played hard and we played hard. It came down to the fourth quarter and they beat us there."
The win for Grundy sets up a battle at Notre Dame in two weeks for second place in the district and a guaranteed playoff spot.