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Purty, defense lead FHS; Owls next in round of 8


Critical turnovers and a shipload of penalties killed numerous scoring opportunities for the Farragut offense against McMinn County.

But DeAndre Purty’s 185 yards rushing coupled with an Ad defense that held firm provided a 17-7 Class 5A second-round playoff win at FHS’s Bill Clabo Field Friday, Nov. 14.

Up next for the Admirals (11-1) is a state quarterfinal trip to Ooltewah (11-1), the only team to whip FHS in 2008 with a commanding 31-3 victory at OHS Oct. 17. Opening kickoff Friday, Nov. 21, is 7 p.m. It’s Farragut’s fourth consecutive state quarterfinal appearance; three previous losses. (More on that game later in this story).


FHS 17 MCMINN 7

Will Jackson, All-state offensive lineman, said overcoming key penalties and turnovers to win is “pretty much the trademark of a good team. We’re able to play one of our worst games of the year and still pull out a win ... .”

Against McMinn (6-6), Farragut broke ahead 7-0 on a 59-yard, nine-play drive ending with quarterback Reese Browning’s three-yard keeper with 27.5 seconds left in the first quarter. Key plays in the drive included an 11-yard Alex Encarnacion run plus an 11-yard Lee Van Dyne catch.

The Ads defense turned back two early McMinn scoring drives, the first one moving inside the FHS 25 before Elliot Jetton’s interception at the 1-yard-line.

The second, starting at the FHS 24 after a short punt, was hurt by a high shotgut center snap losing 14 yards. It ended with Danny Vest blocking a 45-yard field goal attempt.

But penalties and a pair of McMinn interceptions killed two Admiral scoring drives in the second quarter that penetrated deep into MCHS territory.

Kris Harris’ interception and return to the FHS 49 set up McMinn’s only score, coming in the final seconds of the half.

The Cherokees marched 49 yards to tie the game, ending on a fourth-and-goal 1-yard option pitch run from Delano Ellison with just 12 seconds left.

Farragut answered quickly in the third quarter, though a holding penalty helped kill a potential FHS touchdown drive that reached the McMinn 5.

Christian Ponce nailed a 22-yard field goal making it 10-7 Admirals with 6:40 left. Two key plays in the 65-yard march were from Encarnacion: 18-yard run and 25-yard pass reception. Purty added a 17-yard run.

Terry Wheatley’s interception and return put FHS at its own 40 at the 5:06 mark of the third.

“It always starts out with the defensive line,” said Wheatley, a senior linebacker, about the Ads’ defensive success. “If they do their job, linebackers will do their job, [defensive backs] will do theirs. We knew we had to step up because it’s raining.”

Van Dyne’s 37-yard reception deep down the right sideline keyed an FHS drive that reached the Cherokee 11 before another holding penalty drove Farragut back to the 23. Ponce’s 40-yard field goal was partially blocked with 2:45 left in the third.

The Ads recovered a McMinn fumble at its own 45 and used a 26-yard Purty run to key a drive to the MCHS 22. But an interception by Tevin McDermott killed the drive on the last play of the third period.

The Admirals defense, however, held firm and the FHS offense took over at the McMinn 47 with 7:19 left in the game.

They would finally reach the end zone. A 12-yard sliding sideline catch from Brady Evans on third down preceded Purty’s 31-yard scamper to the McMinn 4. Browning’s 1-yard QB sneak made it 17-7 with 4:57 showing.

A Jonathan Moskal interception in the closing seconds officially closed the door.

Comparing this McMinn team to the one Farragut beat 28-10 at FHS Sept. 19, Admiral senior linebacker Austin Bolen said, “I thought they were better. It’s hard to beat a team twice in a row. … And they came off huge momentum [28-24 win versus No. 1-ranked, then unbeaten Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett].”

Helping add to the Admirals’ 253 yards total rushing total was junior running back Motre Hudson, who has been out since early in the season with a torn MCL (left knee).

“I’ve been through a lot, been through rehab,” Hudson said. “I came back for one game and got hurt again [concussion]. I’m ready to do everything for the team. … I’m 100 percent.”

OWLS REMATCH

How can the Admirals reverse its Ooltewah fortunes after such a one-sided regular season defeat? “I think when we came out the first time it just kinda stunned us ... we hadn’t been stopped that much,” said Koonce, who in an attempt to strengthen the offensive line in light of OHS’s line dominance has moved from left tackle to left guard, with Jackson moving to left tackle.

“If we play with confidence, and we play with heart, I think we’ll have a good shot at it,” he added.

Wheatley said, “We’re not scared, we’re not backing down from anything. What would a state championship mean if you didn’t play the hardest teams in the state?”

 

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