Craig Harris/Macon County Times Macon County Junior High’s Jordan Rogers carries the football around the left end.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Macon County Junior High’s Jordan Rogers carries the football around the left end.

Missed opportunities proved costly for the Macon County Junior High football team last Thursday evening as the Tigers suffered their first loss, an 8-6 setback to visiting Upperman at Pat Parker Memorial Field.

Macon County fumbled inside the Bee 10 yard line on its opening possession, and on their only other possession of the first half, the Tigers reached the Upperman 1 yard line before turning the football over on downs.

"Those are two momentum killers," Macon County head coach Coty Jett said. "I told our guys (at halftime) that it's still our ballgame. The ball just happened to bounce in their court a little bit."

It was the Middle Tennessee Football Conference (MTFC) West Division opener for the Bees, while the Tigers fell to 1-1 in the MTFC West Division.

A pair of short, forward pitches from quarterback Gabe Borders to Jordan Rogers, who was the man in jet motion, resulted in gains of 17 and 10 yards on the Tigers' first possession. However, Rogers fumbled at the end of the second of those gains, with Jonathon Rushing recovering for Upperman at the 7 yard line.

Upperman (4-1) responded with a five-play, 93-yard scoring drive that included carries of 21 and 16 yards by fullback Clayton Harris and a 30-yard gain by Rushing.

Rushing -- the Bees' quarterback -- capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run at the 6:48 mark of the second stanza.

Rushing's successful two-point conversion run proved to be key.

Macon County (4-1) quickly rerouted itself downfield, thanks to a 45-yard carry by quarterback Gabe Borders.

Three plays later, Borders ran for 9 yards on a third-and-10 play, moving the football inside the Upperman 2 yard line.

However, Zach Borders was tackled in the backfield on fourth-and-goal, resulting in a turnover on downs.

The Tigers had just four possessions in the contest, the final of which began with 5.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Macon County mounted a 10-play, 75-yard scoring march.

Gabe Borders carried the football on six of those plays, including three first-down runs.

Gabe Borders capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run around the left end.

"We knew going in that we wanted to give Rogers the football," Jett said. "They made some adjustments in the second half to stop him, but it opened some things up (for Gabe Borders) inside."

However, Gabe Borders was tackled short of the goalline on the ensuing conversion attempt, keeping the Bees in front with 2:37 remaining.

Gabe Borders finished with 115 rushing yards on 13 carries.

On the ensuing possession, the Bees picked up two first downs, allowing Upperman to run out the clock.

Rushing finished with 104 rushing yards on 17 carries.

"We knew going in that they had three playmakers," Jett said. "(Rushing) is the best player. I felt like we contained him about 50% of the time. We wanted to hit (Harris) low, but we didn't do that in the first half. We did a much better job of that in the second half. Then, they had 34 (Caden Shanks) at wide receiver, but he really didn't hurt us.

"We told them (that) if you don't stop (Rushing), you don't win this football game. He made the plays he needed to make."

Harris carried the football six times for 59 yards in the first half, but he was limited to 2 yards on three carries after halftime.

"We made a couple of personnel changes," Jett said. "We threw in Hunter Griggs (at linebacker), and we finally had a linebacker to come up and hit (Harris) in the mouth.

"We told the guys all week that if the linebackers are non-existent, it's going to be a rough game. They weren't there most of the night."

With the loss, it leaves added importance on Thursday evening's contest at Smith County, which is also unbeaten in the MTFC West Division.

"I was pleased," Jett said. "I've been telling them all week that if you win these two games, you probably win the conference (title).

"We lose this game, but there were some positives. We moved the football at will. I don't think they really stopped us."

The Tigers will conclude the regular season one week later with a contest at DeKalb Middle School.