The Bobcats, after trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter, did the rest of the scoring to beat the Pioneers 24-14 in a Class 5A first-round playoff matchup on Friday night.
Crockett senior quarterback Cade Larkins finished 13-of-34 passing with 176 yards and one touchdown pass. Entering the game, he needed 249 yards to break the state’s all-time passing yardage record.
Central got back in the game just before halftime when quarterback Dakota Fawver completed a 26-yard pass to a wide-open Liam Fortner in the end zone. That put the Bobcats down 14-7 at the break.
The Bobcats (9-2), who knocked off visiting Crockett in last year’s quarterfinals, then got the ball to start the second half and went on a 12-play drive that ate up over half of the third quarter to tie the game at 14. The march was capped by a Fawver sneak.
“I thought the score they got right before halftime was huge,” Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said. “It really swung the momentum and to get the ball again to start the half then score was even bigger. They went tempo on us in that first drive of the second half and when you only have 42 kids on the roster, that’s not a good recipe. They really won the line of scrimmage on those two drives, specifically.”
The Pioneers (7-4) had to punt on three of their final four possessions, and the dagger was a 62-yard punt return by Central’s Jaidin Horton.
Crockett snared two early turnovers.
An interception by Brenden Reid stopped a Central drive at the Crockett 38-yard line, but the Pioneers could not capitalize. On Central’s next possession, Ronquille Joyner came up with a fumble recovery at the Central 40 and Crockett scored two plays later on a Larkins touchdown pass. Prince Kollie had the other Pioneers score, a 1-yard run.
“I can’t be any more proud of this senior class,” Chandley said. “This is the winningest class in school history with 19 wins coming in the last two years. What they’ve done for our program is second to none. We’re going to miss the heck out of these seniors.
“You’re talking about one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the state of Tennessee, statistically,” he added. “I can’t say it enough, but as good of a player as he is, he’s an even better young man.”
The Bobcats will host Gibbs — which upset Tennessee High on the road — next Friday at Boring Stadium.
“Crockett used to be an easy win and you could mark it on the calendar,” Larkins said. “I feel like we’ve changed that.
“Us seniors have been through a lot and we finally landed a good coach in Coach Chandley. It’s been great and we’ve done a lot, but I’m glad we could just change the persona of Crockett football.”