The William Blount football team experienced a dash of hope in the opening five minutes of Friday night’s game against Maryville.
The Governors ended Maryville’s first drive with an interception — an impressive start against the Class 6A powerhouse in a season-opening Region 2 matchup.
“We competed for nine minutes,” William Blount coach Philip Shadowens said. “We believed more than we ever have. Kids played exceptionally hard. Then, the wheels kind of came off there. Things started going haywire.”
It took the Rebels a bit to shake off the rust, but they eventually returned to form en route to a 42-0 victory at William Blount. Maryville scored 28 points in the second quarter to pull the game out of reach.
Maryville quarterback Cade Chambers said William Blount’s performance early served as a wake-up call.
“It was a humbling experience,” Chambers said. “People think — with Maryville and William Blount, just the history and everything — that we’re just going to come in and beat them by a lot. That wasn’t the case.”
Zach Gardner intercepted Chambers on Maryville's third play of the game, giving William Blount the ball at its own 37-yard line. The Govs benefited from a personal foul, which put them at the Rebel 40.
They couldn’t capitalize. Lou Burchfield ending the drive by intercepting Trey Clemmer to give Maryville a short field. Tee Hodge put the Rebels on the board with a 29-yard rushing touchdown with 4:56 left in the first quarter.
“We needed something to open our eyes because we’re not just going to run the table with everybody,” Chambers said. “There’s going to be adversity, so we need to face that early and get it out of the way.”
The Govs strung together some first downs on their next drive, which set up Job Matossian for a 52-yard field goal attempt. It fell short after bouncing off the crossbar as the quarter came to a close.
It was at that point the floodgates opened for Maryville. Chambers connected with A.J. Davis for a 6-yard touchdown to double the Rebels’ lead before they scored again on their next drive. After a block-in-the-back penalty negated a 34-yard touchdown catch by Davis, Chambers found Brody Sloan for a touchdown on the next play to make it 21-0 with 9:06 left in the half.
“They had a mindset to stop the run game,” Maryville coach Derek Hunt said. “More guys in the box than we could block, so we had to adjust and try to throw it some. We had some success doing that.”
After Parker McGill found the end zone on a 14-yard run, Chambers connected with Ashton Maples for a 74-yard touchdown that put the Rebels ahead 35-0 at halftime.
Nick Dagel rounded out the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown catch from Carson Webb-Jones with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
“Obviously they’re a really good football team, but we didn’t play well,” Shadowens said. “We let people run free on things that we worked on all week long. We didn’t handle adversity well after those first nine minutes. You’ve got to make a play to change momentum back, and we didn’t do that.”
It was a much slower start for the Rebels than in their game against William Blount last season, when Hodge returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Maryville downed the Govs, 55-10, that night.
Next week Maryville will host Bearden, and William Blount will play at Morristown West in a pair of nonregion games.
“I believe in this team,” Shadowens said. “Obviously, it’s hard to say when to lose a game like that, but that’s the best team we’re going to play all year long — we know that.
"Still, we expected more.”