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Spartans build late lead but can’t hold on at KCHS
‘Battle of Bluff’ again goes to Knox Catholic

The “Battle of the Bluff” was a close one as the Webb Spartans met the Knoxville Catholic High School Fighting Irish Friday, Sept. 12, at Catholic’s Blaine Stadium, but the Luck of the Irish prevailed — for the seventh time in a row — when Catholic won 20-16.

Fans on both sides knew the fight would be tough when neither team was able to get further than midfield during each team’s first two drives.

The Spartan defense was on fire and kept the Irish quarterback, junior Tyler Williamson, on his toes, causing him to have to run the ball several times for minimal yardage.

Spartan head coach Dave Meske said, “The defense played well all night.”

Spartan senior runningback Sean Panella had his best night so far this season, with three first-downs in one drive, ending in a touchdown, with 6:24 left in the first half, by freshman running back Caleb Blance to make the score 7-6 Catholic. Senior Meade Edmund’s point-after-touchdown kick was wide left, leaving the Irish up by one.

But the tandem of Panella and Blance was not satisfied with trailing by one before the half and on Webb’s next possession, the two drove the ball to the 37 yard-line and kicker Sammy Abidi lined up to take the shot … and hit the crossbar.

But the referee hit the Irish with a roughing-the-kicker penalty and moved the Spartans to the 10 and gave Abidi another shot … and it was good, leaving the Spartans up at the half 9-7.

The Irish came out with a vengeance in the second half, forcing the Spartans to go for it on fourth-and-23.

Sophomore quarterback Parker Wormsley’s pass to senior receiver Josh Mosley was incomplete, making it Catholic’s ball.

Momentum was shifting fast but junior defensive back Clark Johnson was having none of it.

The Spartan line applied pressure to Williamson to pass and Johnson picked it right out of the air and ran it 70 yards downfield to the KCHS 5.

“He threw it up and I got right underneath it and went right for the ball. It came right at me. I tried to take it all the way in, but I just ran out of fuel there at the end,” Johnson said.

With 5:21 left in the third quarter, Panella got it done and with Abidi’s PAT kick, the Spartans were up 16-7.

The Irish answered back immediately with a 49-yard run that set them up for their second touchdown of the evening. PAT was blocked, and the Spartans maintained a minimal lead of 16-13.

Offensively the Spartan game was finished.

The defense continued to battle it out with Mosley, Johnson and junior defensive back Michael Carillon doing all they could to maintain the lead, but it just wasn’t enough.

“We didn’t finish the game,” Meske said.

“Offensively, I felt, in the fourth period we didn’t consistently move the ball. We gave up a huge stream pass that changed the momentum of the game.

“We can’t give up a stream pass on third and long in this kind of game,” he added.

The Spartans will hit the road Friday, Sept. 19, when they meet region foe Ensworth Academy in Nashville. Opening kick-off is set for 8:30 p.m. EDT.


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