Maryville drops big play hammer on Lenoir City for perfect regular season
By David Cobb | (email@example.com)
Maryville coach George Quarles said Monday that he expected Friday’s regular season finale and District 4-AAA championship deciding matchup against Lenoir City to “go the whole way.”
In something that rarely occurs with Quarles and football, the coach was wrong.
Maryville capitalized on the thing it was most scared of going into the matchup with the Panthers — the big play in a 42-7 senior night victory that saw the Rebels dominate in all facets of the game to extend its win streak to 39.
The Rebels hit touchdown passes of 50, 51, and 55 yards in the first half, jumping ahead 28-0 against coach Mike Zeller’s LC team that had scored 30 or more points in seven of its previous eight games entering Friday.
“They got big plays,” Zeller said, “and we didn’t.”
The Panthers (8-2, 5-2) earned a first down on the game’s opening drive but wouldn’t earn another until under a minute left in the first half.
In the meantime, the Rebels (10-0, 7-0) racked up 303 yards, averaging over 10 yards a play on the Panther defense while dispersing those big plays throughout the first two quarters.
The first one was a dump off pass from Nick Myers to Shawn Prevo that the Rebel junior took to the house after reversing directions to utilize a platoon of blockers.
The second was a senior night special for Rebels tight end Logan Winders. In a bit of trickery, the former middle school quarterback received a pitch in the backfield and dropped back to pass. He launched a spiraling bomb that landed in the hands of an end zone destined Cody Carroll.
“I grew up as a quarterback,” Winders said, “I played quarterback freshman year. I’ve always liked to throw it. We’ve always had a few plays where I throw it, but we haven’t ever had the chance to use it. So coach put that one in this week and he just decided that it was about time we needed to use it.”
The play put the Rebels ahead 21-0.
After another stop by a Maryville defense that allowed just 53 first-half yards, Myers found T.J. Kimble streaking down the home sideline to close the first half.
“We were up 28-0, and we decided we need to get a few more, just put them away, kind of put a foot on the throat and keep em’ down there,” Winders said. “We came out big and scored two more.”
The second half opened with a change of pace for the Rebels as they drove an uncharacteristically methodical 10 plays, inducing a running clock when Myers found Carroll wide open for a 12-yard score.
After Maryville subbed its second teamers in, the teams traded second half touchdowns.
“We thought that it would be a 42-40 game or something like that,” Quarles said. “But give our defense credit. Those guys I think felt like their backs were against the wall a little bit. A lot of people had doubted them and it was probably the best offense we had played all year as far as all the things they could do.”
Maryville held all-everything Lenoir City back Jaylond Woods to 37 offensive yards.
“They’re obviously a great football team,” Zeller said. “And I didn’t think we came to play. We looked a little tight early on, but give them credit. They came out and made plays when they had to, and we didn’t.”
Prevo ran the ball just eight times for 36 yards on the night after yielding to reserves early in the third.
“That’s kind of a disappointment,” Prevo said. “It’s kind of disappointing, but hey, the defense did a great job shutting them out and we just like to make plays. We like to score touchdowns. That’s what we like to do.”
Both teams will find out their first round opponent when the TSSAA announces playoff pairings tomorrow.
“We’ll enjoy this one tonight and then get ready for whoever it is next Friday,” Quarles said. “I have no clue who it’ll be.”