Fulton too much for Gatlinburg-Pittman

Sep. 21, 2013 @ 12:58 AM

Everyone knows about Fulton’s great offense (more than 50 points per game) and its spectacular defense (three shutouts in four games).

Gatlinburg-Pittman found out the Falcons are pretty good on special teams, too.

“The kicking game killed us, with the short punts and the blocked punt,” said Highlanders coach Benny Hammonds. “That’s the reason you’ve got the big margin of victory for Fulton.”

A blocked punt returned for a touchdown and a 70-yard kick return for a touchdown helped Fulton quickly roll past Gatlinburg-Pittman on Friday night in a 62-8 victory on Bob Black Field. The Falcons (5-0) snagged four more touchdowns on the ground from Daryl Rollins-Davis while Xavier Hawkins had a pair of receiving scores to go along with his punt return for a touchdown in the first half.

“We kind of shot ourself in the foot the first half,” said Spencer Brien. “At halftime we didn’t really pay attention to the score. We just wanted to see how we could overcome adversity.”

The Highlanders (4-1) scored only the second touchdown all year against Fulton in the second half when Brien scored on a 12-yard run in the third quarter. He finished with 57 yards on five carries while Michael Muszik had 28 yards on 17 touches. Quarterback Tanner Cox had 83 yards through the air.

Those numbers were dwarfed by 154 rushing yards from Rollins-Davis and another 84 on the ground from Fulton quarterback Penny Smith. The Falcons’ unmatched speed allowed the defending Class 4A state champions to cut through Gatlinburg-Pittman with ease.

“They’re quick,” said G-P junior Chad Ayers, who picked off Smith in the first half. “They were hard to cover.”

That speed extended to Fulton’s punt return unit, which left the Highlanders scrambling by posting back-to-back touchdowns. After several of Cox’s early punts had gone short and out of bounds, the Falcons broke through his protection in the second quarter. Lennox Roper scooped the ball just outside the end zone and walked in for the score to put Fulton up 28-0.

It got worse one possession later.

A low snap forced Cox to run with the ball but he finally got the kick off. Hawkins caught it and danced diagonally across the field for a 70-yard score.

“Really, I just caught it and waited for my blockers to set up so they could knock some people off,” Hawkins said. “I just ran straight down the sideline.”

It was another day of dominance for the Falcons, who have now outscored opponents 278-15 in five games. Fulton hasn’t lost in its annual meeting with G-P since 2009, when the Highlanders won 14-11.

G-P hits the road again next week against Cumberland Gap. They’ll be back in Gatlinburg against another Knoxville power, Austin-East for a Thursday night game on Oct. 3. Hammonds said there’s plenty to work on before then.

“Execution’s a big thing on offense,” the coach said. “Kicking game’s got to get better. … It’s a matter of us executing early when we had an opportunity to be in the football game.”