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Visions of ’08 as Irish best MW in 3A playoffs

MORRISTOWN — Knoxville Catholic began defense of its Class 3A state championship by shaking off the effects of a brutal regular season schedule that included three teams playing for a title in the 6A bracket.

Friday night, Nov. 6, at Burke-Toney Stadium in Morristown, Catholic took full advantage of the second season.

Looking more like the last year’s 15-0 team than this year’s 5-5 squad, No. 6 seed KCHS beat No. 3 Morristown-West 24-14.

“We were in every aspect a different team tonight,” said senior linebacker Adam Casey. “This is a great tribute to our coaches. Coach [Lane] Corum put us in the right places and we were able to make plays.”

Next up for Meadows and the Irish is a trip to Kingsport to take on No. 2 seed Sullivan South (9-2, 5-2) in round two beginning at 7 p.m., Friday night, Nov. 13.

The Irish defense was solid at MWHS despite a slippery start.

Morristown moved the ball to the Irish 31, but after the Irish adjusted the drive ended with a missed 46-yard field goal try.

Plagued in its final regular season game with a case of the “three-and-outs” versus Bearden, the Irish offense started its playoff run with a four-play TD drive.

Senior running back Dorian Cozart sprinted 72 yards inside the Trojans 1. Senior Tyler Williamson scored on a quarterback sneak on the next play.

“The plan was to come in and run behind Zak Tait, that’s what I did and it was successful,” said Cozart, who ended the game with 18 rushes for 139 yards.

“Dorian ran the ball hard,” Meadows said. “Probably more so than anything, the guys up front on both sides of the ball played great.”

The Irish defense dominated the Morristown West offense. On the next five Trojan possessions Catholic intercepted two passes (both by Williamson), forced a punt and recovered two fumbles.

Kicker Luke Mishu converted one MWHS turnover into a 22-yard field goal with 1:39 left in the first quarter, giving Catholic a 10-0 halftime lead.

After a Catholic turnover, the Irish defense held the Trojans on downs inside the Irish 30.

But after a 47-yard TD run by the home team, Williamson executed a play action pass, stepped up to avoid a blitzing cornerback and hit a wide open Spencer Mackle for a 65-yard touchdown pass.

It put Catholic back up by 10 points, 17-7, midway into the third quarter.

Mackle, a senior, lead the Irish in receptions and yards this year, but has been slowed most of the season with leg injuries.

“It [the touchdown] felt good. It ended a long drought for me and Tyler,” Mackle said.

The Irish forced and recovered another Trojans fumble and this time the offense converted.

On the seventh play of a drive that started on the Catholic 35, junior Cody Shirley scored on a 13-yard run. Jared Julies’ third PAT gave the Irish a 24-7 lead.

A defensive line anchored by senior Zak Tait and junior Kyler Kerbyson was too much muscle for the Trojan offense.

The Irish forced MW to punt on its next three possessions.

The remaining MWHS score came in the final seconds after a punt team breakdown.


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