CLINTON—Big plays made the difference on Friday night as Knoxville West eliminated Anderson County 32-19 in a Class 5A quarterfinals game.
Both coaches gave credit to the Mavericks (11-2, 7-1 in District 3) for playing well on offense and defense, and Coach Davey Gillum said Anderson County won most of the plays.
“But when they won a play, it was a big one,” Gillum said of the Rebels.
The Mavericks’ Matt Fox, who sprained an ankle last week against Cherokee, was still hurt and not playing at normal speed, and he had trouble cutting, Gillum said. The star running back was held to 25 yards on 12 carries.
Still, quarterback Tyler Hicks, who scored two rushing touchdowns, and running back Garrett Johnson, who scored one, played well, the coach said.
“Their kids showed a lot of fight,” Rebels coach Scott Cummings said.
The Mavericks were down 18-7 at halftime at the Paul Bostic Sports Complex, but they had a shot at a comeback about halfway through the fourth quarter. The score was 25-19, and Anderson County had just scored two back-to-back touchdowns, one a three-yard run by Johnson and the other a nine-yard keeper by Hicks with 7:27 remaining.
But the Mavericks’ momentum sputtered on the next series when Rebels quarterback Seth Marshall sprinted right, bounced off the back of an Anderson County defender, and raced up the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown run, putting West on top 32-19 with 6:05 left.
The Rebels (12-1, 6-1 in District 4) intercepted Hicks on the next play, and neither team scored again.
The game opened and closed with rushing touchdowns by both quarterbacks, Hicks on short dashes and Marshall on long sprints. The quarterbacks were also the top rushers for both teams. Marshall gained 152 yards on 14 carries, and Hicks picked up 112 on 23.
Hicks scored first on a two-yard run, jumping over the top of the pile and into the end zone at 6:37 in the first quarter. It was Anderson County’s only lead of the night.
Marshall answered less than a minute later with a 67-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion gave the Rebels an 8-7 lead.
West added two more scores in the second quarter on a 21-yard field goal by Manny Ruiz and a 17-yard pass from Marshall to Noah Hoxie. That touchdown with 10 seconds left in the half followed a punt block by the Rebels deep in Mavericks territory.
The Rebels scored again near the end of the third quarter on a 60-yard pass deep down the middle to running back Nathan Cottrell.
The Mavericks finished with 19 first downs compared to nine for West—Cummings said the Rebels’ defense was on the field a lot in the first half—but West came up with some big stops. Those included one at the Rebels 21 after the Mavericks recovered a fumble in the second quarter and another at the Rebels 16 on the first drive of the third.
Cummings said the Mavericks were prepared with a great plan, and the Anderson County defense made the football game difficult for the Rebels. The Mavericks were also able to move the ball against the Rebels, he said.
But West came up with big plays, Cummings said.
He gave credit to Marshall, a 5’8”, 170-pound quarterback who can bench press 300 pounds and squat 500.
“Seth Marshall is tough as nails,” Cummings said. The Rebels quarterback also made a few crucial throws, including the nerve-wracking toss just before halftime.
West will take on Cleveland at home next week in a Class 5A semifinal game. It’s the third time in the last four years that the Rebels have been in the semifinals.
Gillum said the Mavericks, who were district champions this year and beat the Oak Ridge Wildcats in the last regular season game, have made it to the quarterfinals three of the last five years.
Here are some stats from Friday night’s game, courtesy of Dale Isabell:
- First downs: West—9, Anderson County—19
- Rushing yards: West—282, Anderson County—178
- Passing yards: West—87, Anderson County—140
- Total offense: West—369, Anderson County—318
- Time of possession: West—19:46, Anderson County—28:14
Note: This story was updated at 12:58 p.m.