Science Hill was in a shootout Friday night, and Isaac Story and Mikey White helped the Hilltoppers dodge a bullet in the first round of the TSSAA Class 6A playoffs.
Story returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown for a 35-28 Science Hill lead with 1:04 left in the second quarter, White’s 38-yard TD catch on the final play of the half stretched the advantage to 14 points and the Hilltoppers outlasted Farragut for a 56-42 victory at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
Science Hill (9-2) will visit Sevier County on Friday. The Smoky Bears (10-1) also won 56-42 on Friday, defeating Cookeville.
Farragut, which ended the season at 6-5, led four times in the first half, and there were four ties. Story gave the Hilltoppers the lead for good with the timely pick-six.
Three plays later, Science Hill recovered a fumble at the Farragut 49 with 32 seconds left in the half, and White beat man coverage for what proved to be the backbreaking 38-yard TD reception on the final play of the half.
“(Story’s) interception was huge,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said. “That play and Mikey’s touchdown pass is the difference in the game. But you know, players have gotta make plays in games if you’re gonna win. And those kids stepped up and made the big plays.”
White finished with six catches for 160 yards, including a 57-yard TD pass for the Hilltoppers’ first score. He was quick to credit Science Hill quarterback Malik McGue, particularly on the first score.
“He looked the safety off and he just lobbed it up over him,” White said. “He said if I could get off the jam I’d be open all night. That’s what happed right there.”
The last play of the half was less cerebral.
“I said, ‘Coach, you just throw it up, I’ll go get it,’” White said.
McGue was 14-of-23 passing for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Tucker McPherson’s 17-yard catch and Alex Rinella’s PAT tied the score at 14 with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
Farragut’s Bryan Phillips was 18-of-27 passing for 299 yards, four TDs and two interceptions. Elijah Mathes also had an interception for the ‘Toppers.
Chance Pierce rushed for 165 yards and three TDs on 25 carries for Science Hill. His 34-yard score made it 56-35 with 2:11 left in the third quarter.
But Tanner Thomas (15 carries, 101 yards) answered with a 1-yard TD to get Farragut within 56-42 with 9:51 to go.
The Admirals, however, wouldn’t get the ball again. Science Hill converted two third downs on the game-ending 9:45 march, including Ian Martin’s 9-yard catch to the Science Hill 34 on a third-and-five with 7:50 left.
“That was big for us,” Carter said. “Ian came up and made some big plays for us.”
Farragut coach Eddie Courtney noted Martin’s third-down catch too, but Science Hill’s final 14 points of the first half were what stuck in his mind.
“That momentum right before half cost us,” Courtney said. “It really did. We threw the interception and they converted and got the score. It backfired on us and we gave them 14 points there right before the half. We came out and tried to get something going (in the second half), but it was hard to spot them that many points.”
Farragut piled up 593 yards. Mitch White had 10 carries for 127 yards.
Science Hill had 617 yards. Addison Adams had nine rushes for 53 yards. Elijah Mathes had three catches for 102 yards.
“It’s disappointing, but you know, like I said, it was a good shootout game for a playoff game,” Courtney said. “It was two pretty good offensive football teams wanting a win. They did a few things the second half to cross us up with some things that got us in trouble on defense.
“But again, I’m proud of our kids. They fought hard … and I wish Science Hill well in the playoffs, because they’ve got a good football team and Coach Carter’s done a good job the last couple of years in getting these guys to believe in what he’s doing.”
Carter said all week that Science Hill would lose if it didn’t play well against Farragut.
“They’re big up front, their running backs ran good and, you know, they had some good guys out on the perimeter, too,” Carter said. “We were having a hard time stopping them, but hats off to our offensive line and our tight ends for being able to make those blocks and being able to move the chains – and our two backs that come in there and hammered it down when we had to. Chance did great; Addi came in and finished ‘em off. McGue was cramping a little bit. … So they had to step up.”
comments powered by Disqus