Greeneville bows out of state football playoffs

Douglas Fritz • Nov 22, 2013 at 11:43 PM

KNOXVILLE — Without injured running back Daryl Rollins-Davis, Knox Fulton was one dimensional in the first half.Unfortunately for Greeneville, it couldn't contain the length, breadth, depth or height of that dimension.Receiver Xavier Hawkins, a big-time college football prospect, and quarterback Penny Smith put on a two-man show of shows in the first half, and the Falcons eventually salted away a 40-20 victory in a TSSAA Class 4A state quarterfinal football contest Friday night at the Falcons' field.Defending state champion Fulton (13-0) won its 19th straight game, and may not see much resistance the rest of the way in its quest for back-to-back titles.And in just 13 games, the Falcons set the all-time record for points scored in a season with 767 — breaking the Greene Devils' mark of 748 set in 2010.For Greeneville (12-1), it was the first — and last — loss of the season.With just 45 yards rushing in the first half, it was clear the Falcons sorely missed Rollins-Davis. His leg injury suffered in last week's win over Sullivan South left him 10 short of 2,000 yards rushing for the season.But the passing game was an entirely different animal. Smith completed 8 of 13 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Hawkins caught four passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns. The duo combined for 423 yards of total offense.“No. 7 (Hawkins) can fly, and he's about as good as you will see around here,” said Greeneville head coach Caine Ballard. “We knew we had to play a perfect game, but we just made too many mistakes early.”It was only a first-half story for the Falcons' air game. Smith was 1 of 7 passing in the second half, and the completion went for minus-four yards.The Falcons got their ground game going in the second half, and De'Ontay Tate finished with 18 carries for 133 yards.Still, the start was the finish for Greeneville.Things got ugly in a hurry as a disjointed seven-play drive produced Fulton's first score on a 32-yard strike from Smith to Hawkins, who has been offered a scholarship from Oregon State.Greeneville then fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Seven plays later, Smith made Greeneville's defenders look like they were running in sand as he shifted through them for a 10-yard scoring run.The extra point was blocked, and the Greene Devils followed with a bright spot in the first half. A 12-play drive ending with Quan Wilson's up-the-gut 7-yard run made it 13-7.After forcing a Fulton punt, Greeneville appeared to be back in the game. However, the Greene Devils were stopped on third down and then tried to run the ball with a fake punt on fourth-and-6 from their own 46. Fulton stopped the play a yard short, and three plays later Hawkins scooted through poor tackling — catching a horizontal pass and turning it into a 43-yard score.After a pair of punts, Greeneville got a 49-yard run by quarterback Zack Finchum to the Fulton 13-yard line. Three-plays later, Nic Wright fumbled and Fulton scooped it up.If there was any doubt, it ended two plays later. Smith threw the ball up for grabs, and Hawkins read it perfectly while the Greene Devils' defensive back was spinning to the ground about seven yards away. Hawkins caught the pass at about the 47-yard line and went like a laser beam into the end zone.A last-ditch drive by Greeneville reached the Fulton 33 with seven seconds left. It nearly ended in disaster as Lennox Roper intercepted Finchum's pass in stride. Roper finally ran out of steam at the Greeneville 20-yard line and was brought down at the 15 after time had expired.For a few minutes in the second half, it looked like Greeneville might be able to battle back into contention. A 12-play drive was capped by Wilson's 3-yard run to make it 28-13.Greeneville forced a Fulton punt, but didn't move the ball in four plays — including an ill-advised fake punt run at its own 38-yard line.Twice more, Greeneville forced Fulton punts. But each time the Falcons' defense stiffened.And after a 6-yard punt gave Fulton the ball at Greeneville's 22-yard line, Tate raced 22 yards for the score for his first of two touchdowns and a 34-13 lead.The outcome was pretty much decided at that point, although Greeneville scored again and nearly tacked on a cosmetic score on the game's final play.Wilson finished with 40 yards on 16 carries and scored three touchdowns.Finchum had nice stats, connecting on 21 of 36 passes for 252 yards. He also rushed 10 times for 83 yards.But it wasn't nearly enough.“We were just so out of sync in the first half,” said Ballard. “We needed to run the ball more, but we panicked maybe and started throwing it. Credit Fulton. They turn people over.”Overall, Ballard said he was proud of a senior group that helped post 12 wins.“These seniors are special, about as good of leaders as we've ever had,” said Ballard. “I hope the young guys learn from them, and step in and pick up where they left off.”

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