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Encarnacion interception, Sterling rushing key components as Farragut record at 3-1

Just when McMinn County looked to make it all even at halftime, Farragut’s Alex Encarnacion smelled a chance to reach his “big goal” and change the game’s momentum for good.

“I read it right away, I recognized the play,” Encarnacion said about his interception returned 63-yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 FHS lead with only 42.9 seconds left in the first half.

The Cherokees never recovered, while Encarnacion recovered a fumble and had five tackles, including a sack, in the Admirals’ 34-18 victory again MCHS at Bill Clabo Field Friday, Sept. 15.

The Ads improve to 3-1 overall, 2-0 in Region 2-5A. McMinn falls to 1-3 overall, 0-2 in the region.

The Cherokees, who had already struck for a 60-yard touchdown pass on its first play from scrimmage, drove to the FHS 37 late in the half before Encarnacion, a sophomore, changed things.

“We’d been going over that [play] in practice all week ... I just broke on it,” Encarnacion said. “Oh, I was excited. That’s my big goal. I’ve always been wanting to do that.”

Encarnacion admitted to being a bit startled when learning there was a penalty flag dropped during the return. But the penalty went against McMinn.

“That was big, he made a coupe of plays tonight,” FHS head coach Eddie Courtney said of the interception TD. “Alex is a sophomore that’s come in and worked real hard and studies to play the game.

“He’s very determined to have a great year for a lot of reasons.”

Offensively, junior standout tailback Andre´ Sterling rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 26 attempts.

Quarterback Michael Lawrence completed 8 of 15 passes for 80 yards while the senior signal-caller found paydirt on a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Leading passing targets were Chris Eggert (3 for 29 yards) and Zach Allen (2 for 30).

“Robert Fisher has to get some credit,” Courtney said of his placekicker, who in addition to converting all four extra points nailed field goals of 31 and 22 yards.

Defensively, Admiral senior linebacker Shane Reveiz led the way with 15 total tackles, nine solo, and a fumble recovery, followed by linebacker Micah Devan (11 total, six solo).

“Shane Reveiz and Micah Devan both had a good game,” Courtney said.

In addition to a fumble recovery, junior linebacker Will Pearman had nine total tackles followed by defensive end Jonathan Morrison (seven total).

Of Adam Wigren’s five tackles at nose guard, one was a sack. The senior and team leader in weightlifting records also recovered a fumble.

“Adam did a good job,” Courtney said.

Farragut wasted no time making it 7-0, driving 68 yards in 10 plays ending with Sterling’s two-yard scoring run with 7:05 left in the first quarter. Key plays included a 14-yard Lawrence to Eggert connection followed by a 20-yard strike to Allen. Sterling got loose for an 18-yard run.

But the Cherokees needed only one play to tie, as quarterback Devon Johnson hit wide receiver Tyler Cobb on a 60-yard streak pattern down the left sideline.

It looked like an old-fashioned shootout when the Admirals responded in only three plays, going 60 yards to make it 14-7.

The last 53 of those came on a Sterling burst up the gut where the junior was untouched the last 50 yards.

Three touchdowns had been scored in little more than half a quarter, but the defenses stiffened for the remainder of the half.

“Their guys inside, they are very big and we struggled with them for a while, and their guys on the outside are quick. They were able to get off the blocks sometimes,” FHS junior offensive lineman Dylan Young said.

“Overall, we did a pretty good job.”

In the third quarter, McMinn used a 36-yard Johnson pass to set up a successful 32-yard field goal, but Farragut quickly answered with seven after the Cherokees’ onside kick failed.

A 45-yard, four play drive ended with Lawrence breaking free up the middle then veering to the left on his 35-yard TD run. It was 28-10 with 7:10 left in the third quarter.

Four second-half McMinn fumbles kept the visitors from mounting a serious comeback attempt.

After Fisher’s pair of third-quarter field goals, the Cherokees ended the scoring with a four-yard TD run from standout runningback Trace McDermott with 9:13 left in the game.

“He’s a great cutback runner, he’s got great vision,” Courtney said of McDermott, who rushed 26 times for 119 yards.

Despite the decisive win, Courtney was concerned about his team’s second-half letdown.

“We lost our focus and intensity in the second half, and we can’t do that and expect to win on Friday nights,” the FHS skipper said. “I think we kinda relaxed a little bit, and you can’t do that.”


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