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Top-ranked Irish slip past ACHS


It was a scary sight last Friday, Oct. 5, at Blaine Stadium.

The Anderson County Mavericks (4-2, 0-2) led 7-6 at the half and left the state’s top-ranked Class 3A Knoxville Catholic Irish (7-0, 3-0) to rethink its game-plan.


Rethink they did at the half, scoring three more times in the second half resulting a 27-14 Region 2-3A win at home.

After a scoreless first quarter the Irish got a break when ACHS’s Zeke Rodgers fumbled in Catholic territory, recovered by KCHS’s Garrett Trusler.

This was Catholic’s chance to get on the board. Quarterback Erik Lindsey threw a 40 yard pass to Ryan Walden, who made an incredible one handed catch to boost the Irish drive.

The Irish inched their way to the Mavs’ 27 yard-line where Lindsey dished out a short pass to Matt Pfleger, who took it all the way to the end zone with 10:41 left in the second quarter. The point after was missed making the score 6-0 and relieving a bit of stress from the Irish.

It did not last long. At the 2:15 minute mark in the second quarter, Mav quarterback Paul Longmire dropped back for a pass and realized no one was open, so he scrambled to the right pylon from the 25 yard-line for the score making it 7-6 after the extra point.

The Mavs held Catholic’s usually stout running game to 91 yards, but the Mavs only produced 86 themselves.

This game was ruled in the air. Passing was the key, as KCHS ended with 246 passing yards. Six of those passes were to Walden for a cumulative 203 yards and one TD. The Mavs got 215.

Penalties and Anderson County’s defensive line ruled Catholic’s first-half progress, and attitudes, being the first time they have been behind all season.

Two personal fouls and a handful of offsides, false starts, and pass interferences ruined Catholic’s hopes of another scoring drive.

Irish head coach Mark Pemberton believed the penalties were conceived from the team not being used to such a close game.

“We have been tested the last couple of weeks,” Pemberton said. “Personal fouls have gotten the best of us at times, and we are definitely going to eliminate those mistakes.”

One point lulled over the heads of the Irish as they had to look up at a team for the first time all season.

The No. 1 team in the state would not be taken that easily. The Irish started the second half about the same as the first until 6:23 in the third quarter when Lindsey chucked a 50-yard pass to Walden for another Irish touchdown. Catholic missed the two-point try, keeping it 12-7 Irish.

About two minutes later, Mav wideout Zeke Rodgers caught a 30-yard pass for the score, putting ACHS back up 14-12 with 4:55 left in the third quarter.

Catholic made a statement by a long drive capped by a 2-yard Garrett Trusler TD run and another Trusler 2-point conversion, raising the score to 20-14 at 8:40 mark in the fourth quarter.

It looked like Anderson County was on its winning scoring drive when Catholic defensive back Tyler Williamson intercepted a pass.

It led to another Irish touchdown from Trusler, who recovered a Pfleger fumble in the end zone resulting in the final score 27-14 — the smallest deficit Catholic has won by this season.

The Irish will travel to region rival and defending 3A state champ Fulton (5-1, 3-0) Friday, Oct. 12.

 

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