The Rebels committed four turnovers, including a bad snap that Boone recovered in the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Boone running back Charlie Cole piled up a game-high 131 yards on 21 attempts with two touchdowns. He also made an interception and did the punting duties.
South senior running back Julian Reed rushed 13 times for 86 yards and his team’s lone touchdown.
Jeremy Jenkins’ Trailblazers entered the game with nine new starters on defense, and the coach felt they earned a passing grade.
“We’ll take it with the first game, but we’ve got to get better,” Jenkins said. “When we kicked the ball inside the 5, we went with a heavy package thinking that we were going to see a run. They jumped the gun and it was one of those things where our guys jumped on the ball.”
WON IN THE TRENCHES
Nowadays, passing numbers seemingly pile up like excuses for bad football seasons at Tennessee, but there were only six passes completed in Friday night’s contest.
The quarterbacks more often were called upon to run the ball than throw it — especially Boone. Sophomore signal-caller Kaleb Worley rushed 13 times for 37 yards and made some key first downs.
South inserted junior quarterback Eli Jones in relief of Ethan Bergeron late, and Jones showed some flashes by keeping the ball nine times for 50 yards.
“This game was one of those games of who could stop the run the best,” Cole noted. “The defense certainly passed the test for me. We had some great defensive stops on every drive.”
Late in the first quarter, the Rebels got the ball back at their own 26-yard line after a Boone punt. After an illegal block on first down, South decided to try a pass to the flat.
The play turned out to be a backward pass, and Austin Cunningham recovered for Boone at the Rebels’ 13. Brennan Blair scored on the next play.
Early in the second, South drove all the way down to the Boone 15 and had a fourth-and-short. However, the Rebels failed to convert by mere inches and the ball went back to Boone.
Eight plays later, the ’Blazers scored on a 52-yard run by Cole.
Perhaps the main turning point came at the beginning of the third quarter when Boone punted after six plays — Cole booming one inside the South 5.
A bad snap over Bergeron’s head followed, and Will Hamlin recovered the ball in the end zone.
“We made too many mistakes and when you’re playing a team like Daniel Boone, you can’t give them a short field,” South coach Justin Hilton said. “We’re not going to play a running back like that caliber again this season and we shot ourselves too many times in the foot with turnovers and penalties.”
Next Friday night, the Trailblazers host Greeneville and South is at home against Cherokee. Both out-of-league games kick off at 7:30 p.m.
(This story has been corrected to show that Austin Cunningham recovered a fumble for Boone.)