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BRISTOL, Va. — The Fellowship of Christian Athletes Tennessee-Virginia Senior Bowl All-Star Classic was played on Virginia soil Saturday.
But the day still belonged to Tennessee.
For the third year in a row, the Tennessee All-Star squad prevailed, taking a 27-0 win over Virginia at Gene Malcolm Stadium.
“Our coaches were blessed. We had a bunch of great players,” said Tennessee High’s Shane Boggs, who served as head coach of the Volunteer State squad.
“The assistants did all the work. They did a great job getting everybody in the right spots. And it helps having great players. We were probably two deep in guys every coach would dream of coaching all year,” he said.
The Tennessee defense kept the pressure on Virginia from the get-go, managing to collect the shutout despite rules of engagement that allowed no blitzing.
“We went out there and played hard, played our responsibilities and came out with a W,” said Science Hill linebacker O’Ryen Scott, who was the Tennessee defensive player of the game.
“It’s kind of hard (to play without stunting) but if you read it fast enough, you do just as well.”
While the defensive linemen were free to bring pressure with the pass rush, the only time the linebackers could go after a ball carrier in the backfield was when the quarterback pulled out of the pocket.
“They made it so nobody could get too hurt,” said Sullivan South linebacker Jake Weaver. “We just went out and played some football and had some fun. We sized up pretty even, but we out-quicked them pretty good.”
Tennessee High kicker Alex Sigmon initiated scoring with a 36-yard field goal early in the first quarter. Despite having success moving the chains, the maroon-clad squad didn’t see the end zone until Elizabethton’s Terrence Turner’s 4-yard scoring run with 2:52 remaining in the quarter.
Turner was named Tennessee offensive player of the game. He was one of a stable full of backs who demonstrated an edge in quickness over the Virginia squad.
“It’s amazing that I got picked, because I thought everybody contributed just the same. We were all happy for each other,” Turner said. “We came together as a team in three days and it showed on the field.”
Tennessee struck again with 8:11 remaining in the first half on a 9-yard scoring run by Sullivan South quarterback Charlie Moore, who enjoyed the relatively balmy daytime temperatures.
“We’re not used to playing these day games, but it’s a whole lot of fun to get out here and play,” Moore said. “Really, this whole week has been a great experience.”
The week’s itinerary began on Monday with a banquet for all the Tennessee and Virginia players involved in the game. The respective squads practiced on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“At first it was strange, because during the regular season we’re battling each other to win our games,” Scott said. “But we shook hands and came together as teammates.”
They came together quickly enough to script an effective gimmick play for the kicking game.
Tennessee followed Moore’s TD run with a fake point-after kick. Cherokee’s Cole Russell hit Unicoi County’s Zach Beard for the 2-point conversion pass.
Russell added another score with 2:17 remaining in the half when he scrambled into the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run. Sigmon’s kick made it 24-0 at the half.
The second half consisted mainly of defensive gamesmanship with the teams trading a couple of turnovers along the way. Sigmon capped scoring with a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Richlands wide receiver Chase Ray was named Virginia offensive player of the game. Union’s Cody Craft was named Virginia defensive player of the game.
“I told our kids the sun was shining but it shined a little brighter on (Tennessee) than it did us,” said retiring Chilhowie coach Larry Russell, who capped his 41-year career with a weeklong stint as Virginia’s head coach.