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Anderson runs wild but ‘Air Smoky Bear’ shoots down BHS playoff hopes 20-13

Another 200-yard rushing night for Robert Anderson was overshadowed by more Bulldog disappointment.

Sevier County trashed its option-oriented rushing offense seemingly overnight, and “Air Smoky Bear” ended up shooting down Bearden’s Class 5A state playoff hopes.

Though Sevier County’s new and successful passing attack caught head coach Paul Maynard and his Bulldogs totally off-guard, BHS still held a 13-12 lead late with control of its own playoff destiny firmly in grip.

With the Smoky Bears 68 yards from paydirt facing third-and-10 with less than four minutes to play — and with a struggling placekicker — Sevier County needed something big for six points. They got it.

New SCHS quarterback Phillip Chaney, a sophomore who completed 16 of 29 attempts for 274 yards and three TDs, found receiver Brian Albano one step behind a BHS defensive back deep. Chaney’s perfect lob pass became a 68-yard touchdown and a 20-13 Smokey Bear victory Friday on “Senior Night” at BHS.

“It hurts,” Maynard said about the latest in a series of heartbreaking setbacks. This one officially knocked Bearden out of the playoff hunt, dropping them to 3-6 overall, 2-5 in Region 1-5A.

“Secondary-wise, we didn’t play up to our capabilities at all.”

As for Sevier County’s “surprising” passing attack, “they’d been running the option (all season), then they start slinging it around, and it was effective,” Maynard said. “They came out with a new quarterback, I hadn’t seen him in three games (on film). It caught us by surprise. Where did this kid come from?

Maynard said he talked to Sevier County’s offensive coordinator Tony Lingenfelter after the game about the SCHS changes. “He said the option wasn’t working, and ‘we weren’t producing very many points ... so we had to try something, so we just threw this kid in there,’” Maynard said.

“And I think we made him look a lot better than what he actually is. We couldn’t get a pass rush. Those big guys did a really good job picking up our blitzes. They had a scheme, they had a plan. They found our weaknesses.”

However, Bearden’s defense held Sevier County to only 84 yards rushing, 27 in the second half.

Defensively for the ’Dawgs, linebacker Marvin “Pop” Brown, one of the major forces on the BHS defense this season, once again drew praise from Maynard.


“Robert did a great job,” Maynard said. “You’ll get 13 points off playing that style of ball. If we could have gotten anything (in the passing game) to go with that, we’d had another 35-point night.”

Anderson had a brilliant 5-yard first-half scoring run where he bounced off a ferocious hit, and caught Bearden’s only significant pass of the game, a 34-yard screen that helped set up the go-ahead BHS tally late. That came on Brown’s 2-yard TD run with 4:08 to play, making it 13-12. A two-point pass failed.

Maynard also praised his offensive line for “blocking well” the past two weeks, enabling Anderson to rack up more than 400 yards combined.

Quarterback Eric Pickle, repeatedly praised by Maynard for his strong arm and flashes of excellence this season, is still experiencing some growing pains.

“He had several balls that were totally off target,” Maynard said of Pickle, who went 2 for 9 in the air. “And that gets back to him being a young quarterback.”


Bearden will close its season against the state’s third-ranked Class 5A team, the 8-1 Jefferson County Patriots, on the road Friday. Although a huge obstacle, Bearden’s chance to pull a major upset could motivate a team finishing a season fulled with heartbreaking results.

“I told them today (Sunday) that my intention is to go up there and we’re going to beat Jefferson County,” Maynard said. “It would be a great way to close out the season.”

Bearden’s chances will rest on slowing down the likes of star runningback Scooter Houston, headlining a Patriot rushing attack labeled by Maynard as the best the Bulldogs will face all season.

Although labeling the Patriot defense “good,” Maynard said the JCHS interior defensive line is small. With Anderson’s recent rushing rage and improved line play, especially from 6-foot-5, 260 pound junior Chris Kelton, ball control may be Bearden’s key to success Friday.

“They’re giving up points,” Maynard said about the JCHS defense. “It’s not a situation where they’re shutting people down.”

As for Kelton, a little plain talk seemed to motivate the big man.

“I’ve been trying to find a way to light a fire under his tail,” Maynard said. “Finally it just came down to where I had to go to him and say, ‘listen, it’s going to be awfully hard to put a (recruiting) film of you together to send off to a school’ ... he wasn’t playing very well for us, but he has turned it around and he has played really well the past two or three games.”

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