Sullivan South's Derrick Fisher catches and drags down Sullivan North's Tyler Breeding in the backfield. Photo by Ned Jilton II.
KINGSPORT — When adjectives fall short, sometimes you just need to step aside and let the numbers speak for themselves.
Curt Phillips ran for 140 yards, threw for 236 more and accounted for seven touchdowns in the first half before taking the rest of the evening off, and Sullivan South rolled over Sullivan North 49-14 at Benny Compton Field on Friday night.
The win clinched a playoff berth for South (7-1, 5-0 Mountain Lakes Conference).
Phillips completed 11 of 17 passes, throwing three touchdowns with no interceptions. His 140 yards rushing came on eight carries, with half of those runs finishing up in the end zone.
Phillips’ final scoring strike came when he hit Bradley Jeffers streaking down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown as time ran out in the second quarter.
That score pushed the Rebels’ advantage to 49-8, reducing the second half to a rather academic 24 minutes of football.
Although Phillips undoubtedly deserves to grab the headlines, South coach Stacy Carter is quick to point out that the Rebels’ success is a total team effort.
“He’s a super athlete, but we’ve got a lot of good athletes,” Carter said. “I think our offensive line has been tremendous. Man, they don’t get enough ink — any time you score that many points, your line’s blocking.”
With the line opening holes, Phillips got into the second level of North’s defense and the Golden Raiders (2-6, 1-4) rarely brought him down.
The senior quarterback opened the game with a 41-yard scoring run and followed it up later in the first quarter with an 8-yard score.
North pulled to within 14-8 when Dustin Doran kept the ball on an option play and went 71 yards for a touchdown.
But it was all South from there as the Rebels put the clamps on North’s offense until Hunter McReynolds scored from 7 yards out on the last play of the game.
“I thought our defense did a good job against a good North offense that can control the ball,” Carter said.
But the Raiders were unable to put together long enough drives to keep Phillips and company off the field, and it cost them.
“They’ve got a good supporting cast,” North coach Robbie Norris said. “They’d be a good football team with or without Phillips — they played well.
“I’m proud of the way our guys played. They were just outmatched.”
McReynolds finished with 100 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown to lead the Raiders, who ended up with 195 yards rushing as a team.
Taylor Fletcher caught a 75-yard touchdown pass for South while Houston Martin had an 11-yard TD reception.
With his team playing so well, the main concern for Carter is keeping games from getting out of hand while keeping his players in shape for the playoffs.
Starters standing on the sidelines in the second half is becoming the norm for the Rebels, and Carter is trying to make sure his key players will be in shape when called upon to grind out a hard-fought playoff win.
“I’m not going to lie to you — there is concern,” he said. “You’ve just got to be sure you get (conditioning) in practice. You want to do the right thing and be respectful (to your opponent), so our practices are still physical even to this point.”
It would have been a perfect night for South if not for an injury to Landon Bedford late in the game. Bedford suffered an apparent neck injury and was taken off the field in an ambulance.
Carter said the initial prognosis was encouraging.
“The doctor says they think he’s going to be all right, but we don’t know,” he said. “It was a neck injury, but we don’t know how bad it is.”