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Red zone blues help end Irish state title defense

KINGSPORT — Knoxville Catholic High School lost its state championship defense to the Sullivan South Rebels, 14-7, in Class 3A second-round playoff action Friday night, Nov. 13, at Carl Matherly Stadium.

The Irish (6-6) burst out of the gate when senior quarterback Tyler Williamson connected with Patrick Haun for a 66-yard reception on the game’s opening play.

But three plays later SSHS recovered a fumble inside the 1.

It was a body blow stunning the Irish, which rushed for minus-20 yards in the first half.

“They brought a lot of stunts, which we’ve had trouble with most of the year,” senior lineman Zak Tait said. “We weren’t expecting some of the fronts that they had and they made great adjustments.”

Down 7-0 late in the first half, the Irish moved from its own 30 to the Rebel 8 in 10-plays before fake field goal attempt failed.

But on the third play of the second half, Tyler Williamson’s interception put KCHS at the Rebel 18. Dorian Cozart hit paydirt from the 4-yard line to even the score at 7-7.

The Irish defense held the Rebels without a first down on their first three possessions of the half. But a Sullivan TD with less than two minutes to play made it 14-7. Catholic drove to the SSHS 16 before losing the ball on downs.

“This doesn’t feel right,” junior running back/DB Cody Shirley said. “We have to keep this image with us for the next eight months ... We will take this into the workout room and into everything we do to right the ship next year.”


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