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CAK edges A-E, to play Milan in first state title game

Christian Academy of Knoxville’s football team will finally play on the big stage.

The Warriors punched their ticket to the Class 3A state championship game with a 35-27 victory over Austin-East in the semifinals before a packed house Friday night at Warriors Stadium.

And CAK head coach Rusty Bradley couldn't be happier with his team's improbable deep postseason run.

“This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us and our senior class was supposed to be a weak link,” Bradley said. “Every team is special but there’s no question that this team is special.”

CAK (12-2) took the opening kickoff and drove deep before an interception at the A-E 4-yard line. From there, the Roadrunners (9-5) put together a long drive of their own but came away empty when the CAK defense took over on downs.

Charlie High, CAK quarterback, found the end zone four plays later when connecting with Josh Smith from 40 yards out late in the first quarter.

Austin-East scored seconds into the second frame on Cordy Cox’s 2-yard scoring plunge. A two-point conversion made it 8-7 A-E.

The Warriors regained the lead, less than three minutes later, when High threw a 6-yard scoring strike to Franklin Murchison.

Austin-East recaptured the lead midway through the frame on a touchdown pass from Jaquil Williams to Jyshon Forbes, 15-14.

The Warriors posted the final two touchdowns of the half: Corey Rathbone’s 3-yard run and High’s 70-yard connection with Smith late in the half.

The Roadrunners took the second-half kickoff and mounted a nearly eight minute drive, pulling within 28-21 with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter.

CAK would answer early in the fourth quarter when High, who finished 25-for-31 with 398 yards and four touchdowns, connected with Davis Howell from nine yards out to make it 35-21 with 9:36 left in the game.

A-E scored the game’s final TD when Keshawn Johnson hit Chris Golston from 28 yards out to make the score 35-27.

“Our goal all year has been to win state,” said Rathbone, who finished with 31 rushing yards. “Now, we’re going to get our chance.

“The coaches have strived for this for years and now we’ve got the opportunity,” he added.

CAK advances to play Milan (13-1) Friday at 4:30 p.m. (EST) at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, as the Warriors will look to come home with the trophy.

“Words can't describe this,” said Josh Henson, who had four receptions for 55 yards. “We have a chance to play in the big game and we’re going to play our tail ends off.”


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