The Indians were down by 14 points at halftime, only to see the Rebels pull away for a 45-10 win in the Class 6A football state quarterfinals. It is the 20th straight year in which Maryville (13-0) has reached the state semifinals.
Dobyns-Bennett (10-3) more than doubled its win total from the previous season, capturing the Region 1-6A championship along the way. It was the first double-digit win season for the Indians since 2012, also the last time they had advanced to the third round of the playoffs.
“They have such staying power and that says a lot about their program,” Dobyns-Bennett coach Joey Christian said. “But as we go through it next week, we will look fondly upon this season and a great group of 17 seniors who did a great job to change the culture. They showed phenomenal leadership and phenomenal commitment to this team and program.”
Maryville bulldozed its way into the next round. Often running behind the left side of its offensive line, which included 300-pound left guard Tommy Ledford and tackle Mason Hobby, the Rebels piled up 282 rushing yards.
Quarterback Cade Chambers led the way with seven carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He also finished 7-of-9 passing for 124 yards and two more touchdowns.
PULLING OUT THE STOPS
The Dobyns-Bennett defense forced a three-and-out on the Rebels’ opening drive. Once the offense took over, the Indians proceeded to drive the ball down to the Maryville 6-yard line before a fumble ended the drive.
Maryville took advantage with a wide-receiver pass from A.J. Davis to Ashton Maples for 51 yards and a touchdown. With the Rebels facing fourth-and-3 on their next possession, Chambers burst up the middle 14 yards untouched for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Jackson Martin took the ensuing kickoff down to the Maryville 14 before a call for sideline interference moved it back to the 29. The Indians got points on the scoreboard with a 40-yard field goal by Jaden Alderson.
Maryville extended its lead on the next possession. Chambers hit a wide-open Davis for a 43-yard touchdown pass and a 21-3 lead. The Indians answered as Whitson faked a toss sweep and found a wide-open Rayshawn Simmons for a 47-yard touchdown.
Whitson completed 8 of 16 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. He ended the year with 24 touchdown passes and only one interception.
However, the Rebels continued to pull out all the stops. Hodge at running back threw the ball back to quarterback Chambers at the 9-yard line. Dobyns-Bennett defensive end Nate Whitley sniffed out the play and made the stop, forcing Maryville to settle for a 23-yard field goal and 24-10 halftime lead.
REBELS CONTROL SECOND HALF
Maryville gained further control when University of Tennessee commit Tee Hodge ran through a hole opened up on the left side 10 yards for a touchdown and a 31-10 lead with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
Dobyns-Bennett drove into Maryville territory on the next possession, but a second fumble gave the ball back to the Rebels. Chambers made them pay with a 29-yard throw to the left side of the end zone, where the athletic Maples outjumped the defender for the touchdown.
Chambers added the final score, a quarterback keeper where he ran up the middle and then raced down the left sideline 80 yards for a touchdown.
Maryville shut down the D-B run game, holding the Indians to 17 rushing yards. The Indians compensated with the passing game as Dalton Harkleroad had five receptions for 59 yards. Ben McCluskey ended with two catches and talked about the season as a whole.
“We had some doubters at the first of the season,” McCluskey said. “Not many people believed we could do what we knew we could do. You could see the work ethic of this team build and us come together as one. We had one goal in mind. I was proud of the way we fought, the way we fought tonight. I would stand with my brothers on this team any day of the week.”
Simmons had a 47-yard kick return in addition to his touchdown catch.
They couldn’t match Maryville with Parker McGill and Hodge combining for another 133 rushing yards. Still, the Indians left the field with more positives than negatives as defensive back Thomas Church explained.
“It’s emotional, but we came and we fought,” Church said. “As far as we made it, that was everything we could ask for. With our seniors, we’re losing a lot of guys who play key roles. But this gives us something to build on next season. It starts tomorrow with players hitting the gym, hitting the field to get better.”