GRAY — Sullivan South quarterback Curt Phillips left a definite impression on Daniel Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins after leading the Rebels to a 45-15 win over the Trailblazers at Nathan Hale Stadium.
“He’s an exceptional player, a man among boys,” said Jenkins, whose ’Blazers fell to 3-2 on the season. “I’ve played high school ball and coached for nine years and he’s the best I’ve ever seen. There were times our guys were in the right place to make a play and he simply outran us.”
Through the air, Phillips connected on 14-of-19 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, he rushed 12 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. His passing numbers might have been even higher if not for five dropped passes by South receivers.
“He was right on,” said South head coach Stacy Carter, whose team improved to 4-1. “If we hadn’t dropped some balls, he would have really been on.”
Phillips’ 17-yard touchdown run gave South a 7-0 lead with 4:49 left in the first quarter. However, Boone stayed tight through most of the half and briefly pulled ahead in the second quarter. Adam Venters blocked a punt out of the end zone for the Trailblazers’ first score on a safety.
Then, Spenser White capped off a 11-play, 56-yard drive with a 1-yard leap into the end zone.
Down 8-7, Phillips put the Rebels back ahead three plays and 38 seconds later with a 15-yard scoring run. After Jonathan Thomas recovered a Boone fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Phillips connected with Houston Martin on a 16-yard pass just 49 seconds later for a 22-7 South lead.
“Our kids played hard,” said Jenkins. “There’s nothing to hang our heads about. We were up 8-7 and everything was going well and they scored twice before the half. We just made some mistakes and you just can’t give that offense a short field.”
South’s defense accounted for the first two scores of the second half with a 52-yard interception return by Kaleb Kitzmiller and a safety on a tackle in the end zone.
Trailing 31-8, Boone was down, but not out. Jeremy Hood and Mitch Masters each had long runs for the ’Blazers before a nine-play, 68-yard drive was finished off by a one-yard plunge by Masters.
However, Phillips marched South down the field on its next possession and Taylor Fletcher’s seven-yard run put the game out of reach. A two-yard pass from backup quarterback Bradley Jeffers to Seth Johnson provided the Rebels’ final score.
Overall, the Rebels piled up 16 first downs and 399 yards of total offense, with Phillips accounting for 340 of those yards. Favorite target Martin made seven receptions for 116 yards and Kitzmiller added three catches for 46 yards.
Boone was most effective on the ground with 227 rushing yards. The bulk of that came from Masters with 185 yards on 22 carries. White had 54 passing yards for Boone and Hood posted 37 yards on 10 carries.
“All in all, it went well,” said Carter. “Our defense bent, but it didn’t break and I’m real proud of that.” South takes on winless Sullivan Central in a Mountain Lakes Conference matchup next Friday. Boone hosts Cocke County in a Five Rivers Conference contest, which Jenkins called the biggest game in his four years as Trailblazer head coach.