HUNTSVILLE — You might say it was the tale of two halves, plus or minus a couple of minutes.
After falling behind 41-0 amid a disastrous first half, Scott High turned a busted play into a touchdown just before the half in what Coach Josh Terry later admitted was intended to an effort to run out the clock and get to the locker room, then out-scored Gibbs 13-8 in the second half.
Those were the bright spots, but ultimately the Eagles traveled back to Corryton with a 49-19 region win over the Highlanders that they hope will keep them in the hunt for a playoff berth in Class 4A.
The Eagles rolled up 265 rushing yards and finished with 317 yards of total offense, and scored touchdowns on six of their seven first half possessions.
Scott High, on the other hand, saw its offense continue to struggle mightily. The Highlanders were able to muster only one first down before finally putting a drive together that ended with a touchdown at the end of the first half.
Scott had several fumbles off bad snaps, and one of those turned out to be a gift. Quarterback Brady Strunk picked up the ball and 36 yards to the Gibbs 25-yard-line. He later had an 11-yard run to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Phoenix Norris.
“I’ll be honest, at the start of that drive, I was just thinking kill some clock and get to the half,” Terry said.
The head coach was complimentary of Gibbs’ effort.
“It’s a well-run program, really, when you look at how many staff guys have hung around there over the years,” he said. “They’ve got a tight-knit group of guys who do things the right way over there. They showed up and played very good tonight.”
Using its hurry-up offensive approach, Gibbs was masterful in the first half, putting 41 points on the board.
“We’re still growing in some places,” Terry said. “There are some guys playing that are sophomores and freshmen. If the timeline was right with the numbers on this football team and we weren’t having to throw them out there to the fire so early, they’d be dominating JV football right now. (But) our numbers are what they are, so there are a lot of young guys out there.”
Scott High turned to one of those young guys in the second half, inserting sophomore Luke Bowling at quarterback and moving Strunk off the ball to maximize his play-making potential.
“Poor ol’ Brady, man, he’s been sick all week. He’s lost nine or 10 pounds over the course of three or four days,” Terry said. “He’s so tough. They were eating him up a little bit, but the great thing about Brady is we can throw him anywhere on the whole entire offense and he can execute and know what to do.”
Strunk had a 10-yard touchdown reception in the second half.
As for Bowling, he completed 7 of 15 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to the pass to Strunk, he hit another young guy, Alton Whaley, for a 32-yard touchdown strike.
“I think we found some guys going forward,” Terry said. “Luke’s got a real bright future in front of him. I don’t know how quick it is.”
Third downs told the tale of how the night went. Gibbs had just four of them, and converted three. The Eagles did not punt once during the entire game. Scott High had 10 third downs, and converted only one.
After showing promise against two of the top teams in their respective classifications in Coalfield and South Doyle, the Highlanders have hit a wall the last two weeks, being outscored by Pigeon Forge and Gibbs by a combined 69-0 in the first half. The Highlanders will entertain a state-ranked Clay County team this week before getting ready for a stretch run that includes games against Fulton, Gatlinburg-Pittman and Anderson County.
“We’ve got a lot to address. But it’ll be what it’ll be. Guys will keep working hard, and we’ll keep coaching hard. At the end of the day, we’re in it with each other.” — Terry, talking about his team’s approach to the remainder of the season.