Gatlinburg-Pittman trying to bounce back from Fulton loss

Sep. 23, 2013 @ 10:42 AM

 A tough night in Knoxville illustrated some tough lessons for Gatlinburg-Pittman.

Friday’s 62-8 loss at the hands of Fulton gives the Highlanders plenty to work on.

“A good team brings some of (those mistakes) out of you,” said G-P coach Benny Hammonds. “But I’m disappointed in the fact that some of them didn’t make a contribution that are capable of doing better.”

It wasn’t all bad. The Highlanders stopped the Falcons on their first drive of the game. G-P’s Spencer Brien became only the second man to find the end zone against Fulton this year with a second-half touchdown.

But there was also poor execution and missed opportunities.

“You’ve got to establish the passing game on them so they don’t rush nine in the box,” said Highlanders quarterback Tanner Cox. “They key on (Michael) Muszik the whole time. If we get the passing game settled up, they won’t key as much on Muszik. We can have a more balanced offense.”

Muszik managed just 28 yards a week after rolling for 250 against Unicoi County. Of course, this was a much more stout Fulton defense that has now allowed just 15 points in five games. 

But the Highlanders did have occasional success. Muszik has his longest run of the night, a 13-yard jog, early in the first quarter. It followed a Cox scramble for 13 yards, putting G-P 23 yards from tying the game at 7. But Muszik was stopped behind the line on the next play and Cox lost 12 yards on second down, killing the drive.

G-P’s other lengthy drive of the first half went much the same way. Cox found Jeremy Odom on a 32-yard pass before rushing 12 yards to get a second first down. Two runs and a penalty then netted -9 yards, stopping the drive again.

“We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot and that kind of added to their outcome,” Brien said. “Right now, we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s only the fifth game of the season. Our goal is to improve. I felt like in some spots we did improve but in others we need more improvement.”

Brien started another drive off with a 38-yard run. He called it a “good offensive play,” with strong blocking up front. Unfortunately, the Highlanders didn’t string enough of those together Friday. The next four plays combined for a loss of four yards.

Gatlinburg-Pittman now has a trip to Cumberland Gap scheduled for next week before returning home for a Thursday game against Austin-East on Oct. 3.

“We played a very good football team but we know how to bounce back,” Brien said. “This team is a strong brotherhood and we can come back from this.”