KNOXVILLE | When the going got tough against Coalfield, Scott High didn’t have an answer, giving up 48 unanswered points to the Yellow Jackets in a 55-13 loss to open the season.
But when South Doyle smacked the Highlanders in the mouth in Week 2, Scott High punched back.
The end result was still a loss — South Doyle walked away with a 42-30 win to open region play — but the effort was much different. In fact, Scott High out-scored the Cherokees 21-7 in the second half after falling behind 35-9 in the first half.
The second half belonged to the Highlanders, and the stat sheet reflected that. Scott High finished with 22 first downs, 426 yards of total offense, and some standout individual performances.
Senior quarterback Brady Strunk rushed for 144 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown, and averaged 8.5 yards per carry. Freshman Michael Bond had a breakout game, with 96 yards on 11 carries, averaging 8.7 yards per carry. Rylan Griffin had two touchdown receptions.
Another bright spot was transfer punter Ethan Anderson, who had a 52-yard punt in his first action as a Highlander.
Scott struggled to defend the pass for a second consecutive week. South Doyle’s Nolan Brang completed 11 of 21 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns.
But against the run, the Highlanders were much improved, limiting South Doyle to 56 yards on the ground and a 2.2-yard per-carry average.
The Highlanders started the game by going to the air, with Strunk connecting with Jaden Mays for a 21-yard pickup. From there, Scott drove all the way to South Doyle’s 5-yard-line. The drive stalled out there, but Hugo Henry connected on a 16-yard field goal to give the Highlanders an early 3-0 lead.
South Doyle wasn’t able to answer, turning the ball over on downs at Scott High’s 38-yard-line. However, after a three-and-out by the Highlanders, the Cherokees snagged the lead on a 54-yard pass from Brang to Marquell Patterson.
Another three-and-out by the Highlanders gave the ball back to South Doyle, and Brang hooked up with Deshaun Garry for a 34-yard touchdown on third and long, extending the lead to 14-3.
Scott High answered to start the second quarter, with Strunk and Griffin connecting for a 22-yard touchdown, making the score 14-9 after the PAT was blocked.
South Doyle again had an answer, however, as Brang connected with Rolondo Phillips for a 33-yard score.
Later, the Cherokees scored on a 75-yard screen pass from Brang to Gary, who broke a tackle in the backfield on third down, then out-raced everyone to the end zone, making the score 28-9.
The final score of the first half was Gary scoring on a 16-yard run.
The second half began with South Doyle turning the ball over on downs. From there, Scott drove from its five-yard-line to midfield, but also turned it over on downs.
After forcing South Doyle into a three-and-out, Scott scored on a 47-yard scramble by Strunk, making the score 35-15.
Just plays later, South Doyle fumbled the ball into the end zone and were forced to fall on it for a safety, making it 35-17.
Scott was unable to capitalize on the extra possession, and South Doyle — which had been playing some younger players — reinserted Brang and went to the air. He found Jamison Trout for a 47-yard strike, making it 42-17 with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
But things were far from over. Scott High marched 80 yards, scoring on a 16-yard pass from Strunk to Griffin after Bond covered most of the ground on rushing attempts.
South Doyle mishandled the ensuing kickoff, and the Highlanders recovered at the Cherokees’ 20-yard-line. That led to a Landon Crabtree touchdown from two yards out with a minute remaining, setting the final score at 42-30.