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Four Browning TD tosses, stout defense allow FHS to rally versus SHHS; upset-minded McMinn next

Science Hill’s confusing coverage schemes were only a temporary hurdle Farragut began to clear decisively late in the first half.

It took more than 21 minutes for the Admirals’ offense to get going, but four Reese Browning touchdown passes in a 16-minute span settled the issue by early in the fourth quarter.

Farragut, No. 2 seed from Region 2-5A, beat its Johnson City opponent, No. 3 seed from Region 1-5A, 28-7 during TSSAA opening round playoff action at Farragut’s soggy Bill Clabo Field Friday, Nov. 7.

“They were running a different kind of coverage, but they still didn’t stand a chance, we were beating ourselves in the first half,” said Lee Van Dyne, standout junior receiver who scored Farragut’s first touchdown on a 9-yard lob pass late in the first half.

“That just showed how really good of a team we really can be, because we persevered and went through that,” Van Dyne added. “When we picked it up you could definitely tell we were the better team.”

FHS head coach Eddie Courtney said, “I was glad the way the kids responded the last five minutes going into half, ’cause that was key for us to get confidence and settle down and play, and that’s what we did.”

Individually, “Reese settled in and played very smart,” Courtney said about his junior quarterback. “He forced some things, he had the interception early, but he settled in and played the game we needed him to. Great leadership.”

Meanwhile, the Admirals defense allowed only one score — a 22-yard pass from Isaac Kinley to 6-foot-6 receiver Larry Smith following Browning’s interception, a Kinley pick, in the first quarter — and had several key minus-yardage stops throughout the game.

“I thought our defensive front did a good job,” Courtney said of nose guard Greg Grieco and ends Derek Harper, Danny Vest and Gabe White.

Admiral senior linebacker Austin Bolen, among the leading tackles with key stops throughout the game, said “practice” and “preparation” were keys to slowing down Kinley and the Science Hill offense. With Kinley’s running the biggest threat, SHHS ended with 188 total yards.

Farragut, ranked No. 5 in the state with a 10-1 record, will host a familiar foe in second-round playoff action next Friday: McMinn County (6-5), No. 4 seed from 2-5A and a 28-10 victim versus Farragut at FHS Sept. 19, upset No. 1 seed and Class 5A’s top-ranked Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett Indians 28-24 at K-DB.

Opening kickoff at Bill Clabo Field is 7 p.m. Winner of that game plays the Soddy-Daisy-Ooltewah winner on the road Nov. 21.

Science Hill, a team devastated by early season injuries to its secondary and receivers, ends its season 7-4.


Down 7-0 but starting its possession at midfield with 2:50 left in the first half, the Admirals used a 15-yard pass to Nathan Gibson and a 21-yard pass over the middle to David Allen to set up Van Dyne’s TD catch.

“They came out and tried to confuse us, and it worked the first quarter-and-a-half,” Browning said. “They were moving a lot, like their safety would line up over a corner and move to confuse us. Coach [David] Sweetland [offensive coordinator] came and gave us a talk, told us exactly what they were doing. We found out and we executed.

“Once we got a grasp of what they were trying to do, we just got to business and ran up the score on ’em.”

As he’s done throughout the season, Van Dyne went up over a defender and simply took the ball away in the back right corner of the end zone with 1:55 left in the half.

“I just concentrate on the football and do what I can to make the catch,” Van Dyne said.

A pair of minus 4-yard stops by Vest and Derek Harper keyed the next FHS defensive stop, and the Admirals’ offense was 67 seconds and 47 yards from taking the lead.

They cashed in. DeAndre Purty’s 16-yard run, Browning’s 9-yard scramble and Alex Encarnacion’s 8-yard run set up two key pass plays.

A 13-yard sideline toss to Van Dyne preceded Browning’s 6-yard TD strike to Gibson with just 17 seconds showing. Christian Ponce added the second of his eventual four extra points, making it 14-7 FHS.

Early in the third quarter Nathan Storms’ 45-yard punt pinned the Hilltoppers, and after an FHS defensive stop Farragut’s offense got going again.

A 58-yard, six-play drive was highlighted by a 51-yard middle screen pass to Gibson on third down, as the junior broke one tackle then sprinted into the clear down the left sideline.

From the SHHS 8, Browning rolled right, planted, and threw back across the field to a wide-open Derek Harper in the left side of the end zone. It was 21-7 at the 6:29 mark of the third quarter.

Bolen’s minus-7 yard sack killed a Science Hill drive that reached the FHS 43 before the Farragut offense ended the night’s scoring with an 85-yard TD drive.

Purty runs of 10 and 11 yards preceded Browning’s 46-yard deep lob pass to a wide-open Allen streaking down the left sideline. It was 28-7 with 9:55 left in the game.

“It was a great play call by coach Sweetland, ’cause he knew, like when I came in motion, that the guy over top of me was probably going to blitz,” Allen said. “And I just found an open spot, and Reese just put in the right spot and I just ran right to it.”

Although Farragut’s defense helped keep one final Hilltopper drive alive with two personal foul penalties, the Admirals held firm with a goal-line stand late in the game. Kinley was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-goal keeper from the FHS 1.

“I’m proud of ’em because every week it’s been a different type challenge,” Courtney said about his defense. “Last week it was 53 balls thrown in the air against Oak Ridge, and we had to play a different style of defense.

“Tonight we knew it was a football team that was going to run the football, a lot of misdirection,” the coach added. “Kinley, their quarterback, was going to keep the ball most of the time in the stuff they do. No. 1 [Smith], that 6-[foot]-6 receiver, that kid’s going to go up anytime you throw a jump ball up for him.”


Before Farragut’s 28-10 win against McMinn Sept. 19 at FHS, Courtney had labeled the Cherokees as being “physical,” with “speed and toughness.”

All the more after McMinn went to Kingsport-Dobyns Bennett and upset the state’s top-ranked Class 5A team 28-24 last Friday.

“They’re a physical football team, but the thing we’ve noticed is that they’ve made improvements as the year went on,” Courtney said. “They run a form of the spread offense, throwing and running, they’re very balanced doing that. They’ve got a couple of good athletes that can catch the ball, and the quarterback does a good job running with the ball.

“Offensively they’re executing better than when we played ’em early in the season,” Courtney added. “Defensively, they’ve just stayed healthy and they’ve just gotten better there — better tacklers, better football team.”

On the injury front, Farragut senior starting defensive back Trevoris Bogan, who also adds depth in the Admiral running game, was listed by Courtney as questionable as of Monday following a high ankle sprain suffered against Soddy-Daisy Oct. 24. He’s missed the last two games.

Nathan Gibson (knee) also is questionable for Friday, while running back Motre Hudson (mild concussion) is expected to play according to Courtney.

Harper., FHS senior two-way standout ejected following a personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter, apparently will miss the McMinn game per TSSAA rules — subject to a possible appeal from FHS to TSSAA officials that might clear Harper..


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