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Hood catch, late stand save Irish

Daniel Hood picked a good time to earn his first career touchdown catch.

The senior tight-end for Knoxville Catholic took a screen pass from junior quarterback Tyler Williams and rumbled 65-yards with a little more than five minutes to play.

The score gave the Irish a 17-13 lead that would hold up against Anderson County in round 2 of the Class 3A playoffs at KCHS’s Blaine Stadium Friday night, Nov 14.

Hood’s 65-yard touchdown came after the Mavericks took the lead 13-10 with a 35-yard field goal. “It was perfect, the lineman did exactly what they were supposed to do and somehow I was able to run faster than I ever ran in my whole life,” Hood said.

The third-down pass may have caught AC off guard. In their week six match-up, a Catholic victory, the Irish had zero passing yards on two attempts. Hood’s reception was one of 15 passes thrown by Williamson, who ended the night with 136 passing yards.

Down four, the Mavericks pressed on and drove the ball 70 yards to the Catholic 11-yard line setting up a dramatic ending. Four plays later, senior cornerback Nick Branum would break-up a Paul Longmire pass with 1:05 remaining, sealing the win and keeping Catholic’s record perfect at 12-0.

Next is a rematch versus Austin-East, the team ending KCHS’s bid for a state title last year, in the state quarterfinals in Blaine Stadium. Opening kickoff Friday, Nov. 21, is 7 p.m.

The Mavericks were able to contain the dynamic duo of senior Jordan Howanitz and junior Dorian Cozart, who rushed for more 200 yards in the first half against Gibbs in a KCHS rout last week. Anderson County shut down the Irish run game, yielding only 82 rushing yards for the game.

“I just continue to say that there is something about this group, they make plays when they have to, they seem to be going through this all the time,” head coach Mark Pemberton said. “We’ve been in a lot of close ball games in the regular season and I think its helped us now in the playoffs so far.”

While the Irish offense struggled to find its rhythm, senior punter Evan Sanders helped give them great field position.

Early in the second quarter a 42-yard Sanders punt pinned the Mavericks back at their 6. “He [Sanders] has done a great job for us all year, he’s added a new dimension to us, he’s just like another defensive player,” Pemberton said.

The rest of the defense responded as well. On second down junior safety Spencer Mackle’s interception combined with a 15-yard face-mask penalty on the return gave the Irish a first down at the AC 19.

That set-up a six-play drive capped off with a 10-yard pass to Howanitz for Catholic’s first score and a 7-3 lead.

Both teams struggled to move the ball until the Irish engineered a 12-play drive that led to a 24-yard Sanders field goal as time expired to make it 10-3 at halftime,

On ACHS’s first possession of the second half, Longmire led a 13-play, 63-yard scoring drive, rushing 10 times for 57 yards. Chad Coleman scored from the 1, tying the game 10-10.


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