4th-Q surge pushes FHS past Cleveland

Isaiah Gibbs, FHS junior running back, stretches the ball over the goal-line for an Admirals touchdown against Cleveland Friday night, Nov. 3, at Bill Clabo Field.
Farragut High School’s football team trailed most of the night before earning the right to advance to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. The Ads had their hands full with a tough Cleveland squad — while also facing a little self-inflicted adversity.

Farragut had to overcome four turnovers and a fourth-quarter deficit to notch a 42-28 victory over the Blue Raiders Friday night, Nov. 3, at Bill Clabo Field.

The Admirals [9-2] finally took the lead when senior tight end Jacob Warren hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Gavin Wilkinson with 2:06 remaining in the contest to make the score 34-28. Freshman kicker Daniel Bethel added the fifth of his six extra points to give FHS a 35-28 lead.

“That’s a play that we always have in our back pocket,” said Warren, who had eight receptions for 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns, about Wilkinson’s roll right and throw left pass. “We just have to execute it.

“It’s just a matter of going out there and executing. See the ball, go get it. Focus.”

The Blue Raiders, No. 3 seed in Region 2-6A, finish the 2017 season with an 8-3 record.

“We knew that Cleveland was a good football team and we knew that we were going to have to score points,” Farragut head coach Eddie Courtney said. “[Coach Scott] Cummings has a done a great job with them offensively and they really believe in what they do on defense — and we knew that.”

The Admirals, who struggled all night, controlled the fourth quarter. After Warren gave Farragut the lead for good, it would add insurance when Isaiah Gibbs scored from seven yards out with just under a minute to play to make the score 42-28. The game’s final touchdown was set up when senior linebacker Cade Burkey recovered a Cleveland fumble and rumbled to the 7-yard line.

It was Burkey’s second recovery of the game. He closed the first half by scooping up a Blue Raider turnover and appeared to score a go-ahead touchdown but was ruled down by contact as the play was whistled dead.

Burkey, however, wasn’t complaining after the game.

“The best thing about a good team is that they always find a way to make plays,” he said. “We have good linebackers and when one of us is having a bad day, the other two will step up and pick the other one up.

“I’m really happy. Hat’s off to Jacob Warren for making catches that I just didn’t think we’re possible,” he added.

The final play made things even more special for Farragut. Max Travis, a senior, picked off a pass from Cleveland’s Kellye Cawood in the end zone as time expired.

Travis was slated to be Farragut’s starting quarterback but he was injured twice, dashing those hopes. But he made some big plays on defense against Cleveland.

“It felt great to get that interception,” Travis said. “It was a long time coming and it felt great.

“You don’t get to play with your brothers for 11 weeks and it’s great to finally go out there and play.”

“I’m proud for Max and I’m proud for our team,” Courtney said. “He was supposed to be our starting quarterback and he broke his hand. Then, he had an upper arm injury. But he was consistent and he stayed around. So we wanted to give him a chance to play.”

The night got off to a bad start for the Ads. Cleveland’s big play offense scored first when Cawood connected with Romeo Wykle on a 94-yard scoring strike midway through the opening frame.

The Ads answered when Warren made a spectacular catch in the end zone, making it 7-7.

Cleveland regained the lead later in the quarter on a 75-yard touchdown scamper by Keegan Jones.

Injured in the third quarter, Jones rushed for 230 yards. He also would score on a 90-yard run before being hurt, giving the Blue Raiders a 21-14 lead early in the third stanza.

Farragut scored the only points in the second stanza on a touchdown run by Gibbs.

Josh Moses scored his third touchdown of the season to make 21-21 before Cleveland scored one final time.

Gibbs made it 28-28 with 8:08 left in the game.

“At the end of the day, we just didn’t have enough to get it done,” said Cummings, a graduate of West High who led his alma mater to a Class 5A state championship in 2014. “We just didn’t execute.

“... Hats off to Farragut. They’re a great team.”