G-P rebounds with 35-7 road win
The Gatlinburg-Pittman Highlanders got back to their winning ways Friday night, defeating Cumberland Gap, 35-7.
The four-pronged offensive attack of Zeke Williams, quarterback Tanner Cox, Spencer Brien and junior Michael Muszik paid dues for the Highlanders as the four accumulated 115 yards on the ground, while Cox also did his part through the air, completing 7 of 10 passes for 97 yards and an aerial score to Riley Trotter.
G-P came into the game looking for a win after suffering a 62-8 defeat last Friday at Fulton. Looking to improve on that defensive performance, the Highlanders faced the Panthers’ rush-oriented offense, led by quarterback Dakota Brock. The Highlanders not only showed vast defensive improvement by forcing three key first-half turnovers, but also held the Panthers scoreless for the majority of the game.
Cumberland Gap quickly ran into the fierce G-P defense led by Brien. A quick three-and-out put the ball back in the hands of the talented Highlander backfield, and immediately junior Michael Muszik found pay dirt for six. An Albert Werner PAT made it 7-0 Highlanders early in the first, and a Spencer Brien trot to the end zone on the following G-P possession made it 14-0 at the end of the opening period.
Zeke Williams carried over the intensity into the second quarter by recovering a fumble on a punt to put the Highlanders in the red zone once more. A Cox quarterback keeper made the score 21-0, and on the ensuing Panther possession Chad Ayers recovered a fumble to give G-P a short field to work with once more.
“The defense did an exceptional job tonight. It’s all about them,” said Highlanders coach Benny Hammonds. “They deserve the credit because they played hard all night.”
The Brien-led linebacking core did an excellent job in containing the Panthers’ scrambling quarterback. Brien alone had three sacks and two tackles for a loss.
“Anytime you have a team put 62 points on you, it’s demoralizing,” Brien said. “This week we were focused on coming out and shutting them down and we did just that. It feels great to get the win.”
The Highlanders next score came on a 24-yard touchdown grab by Riley Trotter making it 28-0 going into halftime. Coming out of the half, the G-P offense went right back to work as Muszik once again found the end zone. The Highlanders don’t have long to celebrate the victory, though. District rival Austin-East comes to town on Thursday night.