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Tennessee High deals Crockett its first loss

Joe Avento • Oct 19, 2019 at 2:30 AM

JONESBOROUGH — This one lived up to the hype.

Cole McBrayer’s 1-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds left capped a tense fourth quarter and Tennessee High escaped with a 28-21 victory over David Crockett on Friday night at Pioneer Field.

“Awesome game!” said Tennessee High coach Mike May, whose team stretched its winning streak to seven games. “I think we were hungry. We came out on fire. Our kids wanted to win this game so bad.”

Tennessee High (7-1, 5-0 Region 1-5A) won this game on the ground, outgaining the Pioneers (6-1, 3-1) in rushing yards 266-6 and 331-243 overall.

“Tennessee High wanted it more than we did,” Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said. “Let’s just tell it like it is. They came out and mashed us in the mouth. At times we sat there and took it. Hats off to them. They came in and dominated the line of scrimmage. They ran the ball whenever they wanted and we could not run it.”

Crockett quarterback Cade Larkins surpassed the 10,000-yard passing mark for his career, but his interception with 1:57 remaining set up Tennessee High’s winning score.

Crockett was called for eight penalties in the fourth quarter and somehow continued to keep the Vikings at bay until the final seconds.

After Tennessee High’s Jacob Craft missed a potential game-winning 22-yard field goal, the Pioneers got the ball back with a chance to win. Larkins ran away from the rush and his pass was picked off by Isaiah Smith. It was just the third interception of the season for the Crockett quarterback.

Moments later — and after a couple of crucial penalties against Crockett — McBrayer had his second touchdown of the night and Tennessee High had seized control of the regional standings.

McBrayer rushed for 70 yards and passed for 105 more.

For Crockett, Larkins completed 14 of 25 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Prince Kollie caught seven passes for 106 yards and a touchdown while Donta Hackler had four receptions for 117 yards and a score.

Neither team ever led by more than a touchdown.

The Vikings gambled on fourth down in the first quarter and Crockett’s Johnny Lloyd made them pay, making a tackle in the backfield. That gave the Pioneers the ball on the Tennessee High 42-yard line and they took advantage of two pass interference calls to get into scoring position.

Ronquille Joyner opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.

Tennessee High got physical on its next possession, breaking tackles on almost every play, including on Kelvin Coleman’s 30-yard touchdown catch from McBrayer that tied the game.

The Vikings then figured out the best defense on Larkins was to keep him off the field and they went on a time-consuming 55-yard drive that culminated in McBrayer’s 4-yard go-ahead touchdown run.

Larkins started to find his rhythm on his next possession and tied the game at 14 when he hit Kollie in stride for a 43-yard touchdown pass. The play came on a first-and-30 set up by a chop-block penalty against the Pioneers.

It didn’t take long for Tennessee High to move back ahead once the third quarter began. Coleman took a pitch and looked around right end before cutting back against the grain. He headed left and found nothing but grass between him and the goal line. His 46-yard touchdown run put the Vikings back on top, 21-14.

Two plays later, Kollie caught a pass and appeared on his way to a big gain, but after gaining 25 yards, he fumbled the ball away. Tennessee High then drove deep into Crockett territory.

Kollie, who dropped a sure interception on the previous play, then stripped the ball away from Smith as Tennessee High got inside the Crockett 15-yard line.

Larkins then avoided a blitz on third and 19 and lofted the ball while standing on his own goal line. The touch pass just cleared the fingertips of two defenders and landed softly into the arms of Hackler, who beat everybody to the end zone. The 89-yard touchdown tied the game at 21 and put Larkins past 10,000 passing yards for his career.

Crockett plays at Daniel Boone next week in the annual Musket Bowl, while Tennessee High plays host to Cherokee.