It was one of those games where neither team deserved to lose. You just hoped someone would win.
Finally, illustrating the distinction between the two, Fairview did.
Evan Porter’s 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal in double overtime lifted the Raiders to a 6-0 win over Maryville’s Rebs in the Blount Today Midget Super Bowl last Saturday at Maryville High’s Shields Stadium.
It was a tough loss for the Rebs, but not nearly as tough as it could have been for Raiders only a few plays earlier.
Fairview had looked the stronger team for much of the afternoon, only to see Maryville fight back with a series of big plays to send the game to overtime scoreless. On the third play of the first extra session, Porter swept around left end, where a jarring hit from the Rebs’ Kelby Brock knocked the ball free, Maryville’s T.D. Blackmon recovering.
“You never know what is going to happen with 11-12 year olds,” Fairview coach Rick Young said. “The kids were playing hard and that is all we ever ask them to do.”
Austin Ensley’s interception of a Maryville pass on the first play of the ensuing series effectively erased the Porter fumble, sending a tense and hotly-contested battle between the two longtime rivals to a second overtime.
The pick would be Ensley’s second of the game, his first coming at the Fairview 6-yard line with seven seconds to play in the half.
Fairview wouldn’t waste its reprieve to hand the Rebs only their third championship game loss in the last 12 years, but Maryville wouldn’t make it easy. Kyle Cunningham’s third-down pass to Brock put the Rebs in fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line on the first possession of the second overtime. This time, linebacker Tommy Myers came to Fairview’s rescue, his hit in the middle of the line denying Blackman the end zone.
“I saw No. 8 (Maryville’s Jack Bristol) lining up in the hole, and he’s their best blocker,” Myers said, “so I just read the play.”
Finally, Fairview could win it outright.
Chase Nuchols churned through the right side to move the Raiders to the Maryville 4-inch line on third down. On fourth down, Young said he didn’t have to think twice about who would get the ball.
“I’m old school,” he said. “If I’m going to lose, I’m going to lose giving the ball to my best running back.”
Porter didn’t break the plane by much. Maryville stiffened, but he got there just the same.
“I felt like, ‘I’ve got to get in there, no matter what,’” Porter said. “I remember hitting the dirt and everybody picking me up and hitting me on the helmet and telling me, ‘Good job.’”
The game-ending high drama aside, Fairview looked to be getting the better of things for much of the day. The Rebs would be held to 7 yards rushing in the opening half as the Raiders repeatedly advanced deep into enemy territory.
“We made some plays,” Maryville coach Don Sentell said, “but we were on our heels all day long. It’s hard to play on your heels. I thought our kids gave it all they had. They (the Raiders) are a good football team. They were more physical than us.”
A halfback pass from Porter would go through the hands of Raider receiver on a seeming sure score on Fairview’s first possession. When next the Raiders had the ball, they moved to third-and-goal at the Maryville 1, only to see Porter fumble the ball into the end zone after a hard lick from Brock.
Fairview would fumble once more and see another seeming score slip through the hands of a receiver before the end of half.
Fairview continued its forays into the Maryville end when play resumed. The opening drive of the second half reached first-and-10 at the Rebs’ 12 before a holding call and a Blackman interception again turned the Raiders away without points.
“The Rebs are a good football team,” Young said. “There were some times they could have laid down, and they didn’t.”
With six minutes to play in regulation, Maryville moved to fourth-and-12 at the Raider 30-yard line, where Fairview’s Jordan Ervin stopped Bristol short of the first-down marker. Fairview got one last shot to win it in regulation, facing fourth-and-4 at midfield with 1:31 remaining. Again, the Rebs got the stop, Hunter Townsend bringing down Porter a yard short of the sticks to effectively send the game to overtime.
“We always teach our players to never quit,” Young said. “When things are going wrong on the field, in the classroom, in life, you never quit. You keep working and good things will eventually happen.
“I am happy for these boys for winning the championship, but I am most proud of them because they never quit, when things were going wrong they could have become frustrated and lost focus; they did not. They kept playing as hard as they could, and they finally got the outcome they had worked for.”
As he sat on the Maryville bench afterward, Sentell said the Raiders are deserving of due credit.
“Only thing I can say is they’re a good football team,” he said. “They played well today. Forty-seven years, (and) it still hurts as bad as the first (loss).”
Alcoa 16, Fairview 13
Damien Love and DiAndre Johnson had rushing scores for the Tornadoes in the National Conference Pee Wee Super Bowl, with quarterback Avery Kyle passing to Shannon Mitchell for the conversion following the second Alcoa score.
Noah Humphreys passed 55 yards to Anthony Mohr for the first to two Raiders’ scores, with Mohr running 50 yards for a second. Key for the Tornadoes was a first-half sack for two big points.
Heritage 20, Southside 12
Walker Russell barreled in for the first score for the Indians in the American Conference Pee Wees title game. Elijah Hearon ran for the extra point for Heritage. Hearon would run for the second Heritage score, with Russell switching roles to add the conversion.
Hearon put the Indians well beyond Southside’s reach with his second scoring run of the contest, with the Eagles tallying late with the outcome largely decided.
Southside got a 35-yard scoring run from Joseph Foster for one of its two scores. Grayson Harris collected the other on an 8-yard run.
Friendsville 18, Southside 12, OT
Corey Pyle put the Falcons over the top in American Conference Midget championship game with a touchdown run in the extra session. Friendsville collected its other scores by way of a Colby Gilbert interception returned 50 yards for a touchdown, with the speedy Gilbert adding a second score on a 65-yard run.
Jacob Krajnik hauled in a 40-yard pass from Noah Jones to account for the first Southside score. Jones then ran 20 yards for the touchdown that would send the game to overtime.
Fairview 20, Maryville Titans 12
The Raiders continued a late season push with a win in the American Conference grasshopper championship game Tuesday night at Everett Recreation Center. Cade Chambers put Fairview on the board with a 38-yard touchdown run to start things. Tate Daniels tallied the second score for the Raiders on a 30-yard reverse.
Chambers found the Maryville end zone for a second time from 5 yards, with Colby Radford passing to Daniels for the conversion.
The Titans got a 40-yard touchdown run from Caden Williamson for one of its two scores. Wes Tate tacked on the other with a 45-yard sprint through the Raider defense.
Lil Rebs 25, Alcoa 6
Make it seven in a row for the Lil Rebs.
Maryville got scoring runs of 15 and 25 yards from Travonis Hodge in extending its streak of National Conference Super Bowl championships. Judson Lindley powered into the Tornado end zone from a yard away. Graham Everett capped the scoring for the Rebs with a 10-yard touchdown run, the Maryville defense pitching a shutout until the game’s final play.
Landon Ford scored for the Tornadoes as time expired, finding the Lil Rebs end zone from 15 yards out.