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CAK edges Polk, Alcoa next

It came down to the last few minutes of Christian Academy of Knoxville’s home game versus Polk County Friday, Nov. 12.

But the Warriors fought their way to victory in the second round of the TSSAA Class 3A football playoffs, beating the Wildcats 28-21 when they scored with just 39 seconds left in the game.

“As a competitor, you want to be in the situation where you have to win the game,” CAK head coach Rusty Bradley said. “Our guys were calm, they were composed. There was a peace about them. It wasn’t us out there playing, I honestly believe that God was doing something special in the lives of these kids tonight, and we weren’t going to lose.”

The drive started at the CAK 44-yard line with 2:40 left in the game.

Quarterback Quinn Epperly moved the ball down the field with passes to senior Zach Mead and sophomores Josh Smith and Charlie High, with a couple of keepers and a carry by Carson Pegram mixed in.

The Warriors found themselves facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Rather than kick the field goal, which would have given CAK the lead, Bradley made the call to go for the touchdown.

“We had a freshman kicker that was struggling, and I didn’t want to put it in his hands ... I wanted to put it in our seniors’ hands.”

Pegram, a senior, rushed for the touchdown, his second of the night, and Epperly, also a senior, passed to Smith for the two-point conversion. “The line did a perfect job of blocking,” Pegram said. “I gave it everything I had. It was unbelievable.”

Now 11-1, CAK has won the most games in a single football season in school history.

Polk ends its season 10-2.

Epperly, who completed 35 of 45 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns, said the CAK defense was key in the game.

“I didn’t have my best game tonight,” he added. “Three interceptions is not a very good game. The defense backed me up. ... They got my back tonight.”

Steven Fortner, defensive tackle, had two key sacks and nine tackles. “We started executing our game plan, and getting the quarterback on the ground was a big part of that game plan,” he said.

Advancing to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003, CAK will face nemesis Alcoa (12-0), at AHS, after losing there 50-33 Oct. 28. Opening kickoff is 7 p.m., Friday.

Smith, who led CAK with eight catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns, said about the huge Nov. 19 showdown: “We just need to fight hard, do our best, make plays, stop turnovers — really just make something happen.”


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