South's Curt Phillips follows a wall of blockers as he heads for another touchdown Friday. Ned Jilton II photo.
KINGSPORT — On South’s first snap from scrimmage after taking the opening kickoff in Friday’s second round of the TSSAA Class 4A playoffs, Curt Phillips bounced outside on a draw, broke a tackle and blasted off for a 71-yard touchdown run.
That pretty much illustrated how he managed to come in lacking only two yards for 3,000 of total offense on the season.
The BMOC’s big play inaugurated a 41-21 rout of Morristown West, setting up a showdown with Greeneville in Death Valley next Friday.
“It’s a big rematch. It’s Greeneville, the only team to beat us this year,” said South Coach Stacy Carter, whose squad improved to 11-1 overall.
“It’s big for us. A chance to redeem yourself. You don’t have to fire kids up much when that’s already happened.”
South beat Morristown East by exactly the same score last week. But nothing else — not even the coin flip — bore any similarity to the Rebels’ last outing.
“Usually we go out on defense first and we defer. We tried to change it up and let our offense go. We scored first, so that kind of set the tone for us,” said Phillips, who scored all six of South’s touchdowns.
It was another astounding day at the office for the Rebel signal caller. He had 20 carries for 163 yards rushing, 125 yards of which were accrued on his scoring runs alone.
He added a 6-yard scoring run at 6:34 in the first quarter, giving South the 14-0 lead with his 2-point conversion pass to Kaleb Kitzmiller. His 1-yard TD plunge with 8:36 on the clock saw the Rebels go up 21-0 on Jordan Willingham’s PAT kick — the inverse of what occurred against Morristown East last week.
South went up 28-0 after Phillips once again powered it across from the 1-yard line at 8:36 in the third quarter. He added a 43-yard scoring scramble with 1:04 remaining in the first half. He capped scoring with a 3-yard TD run with 3:22 left in the ballgame.
What accentuated his running game was the way he spread out West’s defense. He hit 14-of-19 passing attempts for 221 yards — 199 of that during the first half onslaught.
While a little kryptonite would probably have gone a long way for the besieged Trojans (7-5), Phillips saw Friday’s offensive outburst as less science fiction and more team effort.
“We’re a balanced offense. We take what the defense gives us. Last week they gave us the run, so we ran. This week they stacked the box and we’ve got really talented receivers. When you’ve got a line that gives you that much time, it makes it pretty easy,” said Phillips, who was sacked only once by West — a 2-yard loss with about six minutes left in the game.
Rebel wide receiver Houston Martin — who grabbed a game-high 11 catches for 175 yards — was also disinterested in self-aggrandizement.
“We’ve got four or five receivers on this team that are really good. We like to spread the ball around and keep the other team guessing. One night I might have five or six catches. The next night Kaleb or Seth (Johnson) might step in and have five or six and me not have any at all,” said Martin, whose longest snag of the night was a 46-yard catch that set up South’s third score of the opening period.
There were other heroes to be sure. South’s punt receiving squad held off an early West fake punt attempt. Ryan Halverson had another special teams moment, falling on an onside kick to help foil the Trojans’ final comeback gambit.
Along the way, the Rebels got big defensive plays from the likes of Chris Collins, Blake Rasnake, Ty Garvin, Michael Acero and Clint Phillips.
The Trojans headed into the fray minus starting quarterback Logan Wild and wide receiver Patrick Hodge, both of whom were lost for the season in last week’s 40-16 opening round win over Johnson County.
That put the onus on backup helmsman Sean Jones, who got his battlefield promotion last week.
The youngster passed for 88 yards on the night, including his 6-yard scoring strike to Erik Hazelwood with 4:44 left in the first half. Tailback Terrell Fredricks rushed for 105 yards, including second-half scoring runs of 2 and 8 yards. Counterpart J.J. Goforth collected 110 yards.
“We made too many mistakes and got in too big of a hole. But I was really proud of our kids for playing hard,” said West coach Don Woods.