After trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Bobcats did the rest of the scoring to beat Crockett 24-14 in a Class 5A first-round playoff matchup on Friday night.
Crockett senior quarterback Cade Larkins finished 13-for-34 with 176 yards and one touchdown pass. He needed 249 yards coming into the game to break the state’s all-time passing yardage record.
A score right before the half got the Bobcats in the game, down 14-7 at the break as Bobcats quarterback Dakota Fawver completed a 26-yard pass to a wide-open Liam Fortner in the end zone.
The Bobcats (9-2), who knocked off visiting Crockett in last year’s quarterfinals, then got the ball to start the second half and went on a 12-play drive that ate up over half of the third quarter to tie the game. The march was capped by a Fawver TD sneak.
“I thought the score they got right before halftime was huge,” Crockett head coach Hayden Chandley said. “It really swung the momentum and to get the ball again to start the half, then score was even bigger. They went tempo on us in that first drive of the second half and when you only have 42 kids on the roster, that’s not a good recipe. They really won the line of scrimmage on those two drives, specifically.”
The Pioneers (7-4) were never able to recover, punting on three of their final four possessions.
The dagger for Crockett was a 62-yard punt return by Central’s Jaidin Horton. Crockett had fourth-and-13 from its 32-yard line and lined up like it were going for it.
Unfortunately, an offsides penalty pushed the Pioneers back five yards. On the ensuing kick, Crockett defenders missed a handful of arm tackles while Horton had eyes for the end zone.
Crockett had two early turnovers with an interception by Brenden Reid that stopped a Central drive at the Crockett 38. However, the Pioneers could not capitalize on the opportunity as they punted three plays later after not gaining any yardage.
On Central’s next possession, Ronquille Joyner came up with a fumble recovery at the Central 40 and Crockett scored two plays later on the only Larkins touchdown pass of the night. Prince Kollie had the other Pioneers score as he finished a 16-play drive with a 1-yard run.
“I can’t be any more proud of this senior class,” Chandley said. “This is the winningest class in school history with 19 wins coming in the last two years. What they’ve done for our program is second-to-none. We’re going to miss the heck out of these seniors.
“You’re talking about one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the state of Tennessee, statistically. I can’t say it enough, but as good of a player as he is, he’s an even better young man.”
The Bobcats will play host to Gibbs — which upset Tennessee High on the road — next Friday at Boring Stadium.
“Crockett used to be an easy win and you could mark it on the calendar,” Larkins said. “I feel like we’ve changed that. Us seniors have been through a lot and we finally landed a good coach in Coach Chandley. It’s been great and we’ve done a lot, but I’m glad we could just change the persona of Crockett football.”