CAK rallies past Gatlinburg-Pittman, 56-21
It went from blowout to ball game to blowout again in a 56-21 CAK Warrior first-round playoff victory over Gatlinburg-Pittman on Friday night at Hammonds Stadium.
It was all G-P early, and the Highlanders (8-3) built a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
But the first half was a tale of two quarters, and the Warriors (5-6) answered with 28 unanswered for a 28-21 CAK lead by intermission.
The Warriors went on to score 56 unanswered points to close the 35-point game out.
"We started off strong and got a break or two early, and we played hard and were able to capitalize on that for a quick 21-point lead," said G-P coach Benny Hammonds. "I don’t know if we’ve ever been in a position like this where we got 21 points that easy, and then were completely taken out of the game."
The season-ending contest couldn’t have started much better for the Highlanders.
Despite a 3-and-out punt on G-P’s opening possession of the contest, the Highlanders scored on the Warriors’ first snap when senior Austin Sides stepped in front of CAK freshman Cole Smith’s pass and returned it 28 yards for a 7-0 lead after freshman Albert Werner’s PAT kick with 10:25 left in the first.
And after the Warriors were forced into a 3-and-out punt of their own with 9:17 to go in the first, the Highlander offense kept the momentum going with a five-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped by a 39-yard TD pass from senior Tanner Cox to senior Jeremy Odom on a 3rd-and-5 with 7:30 left in the first for a 14-0 G-P lead.
And after Sides recovered CAK sophomore Baylor Caughorn’s fumble at the Warrior 44 with 2:59 in the first, the Highlanders upped it to 21-0 with a six-play drive capped by senior Spencer Brien’s 23-yard TD run up the gut with 48 seconds in the opening frame.
It was all Warriors after that, however.
CAK senior Whitaker Cunningham scored two straight TDs off 25- and 31-yard strikes from Smith to cut it to 21-14 after the PAT kicks by strong-legged senior kicker Stephen Neu with 11:04 and 9:49 to go, respectively, in the second.
Sophomore Phillip Nichols knotted it at 21-21 when he caught a 13-yard pass from Smith with 8:24 left in the second.
The Warriors took their first lead of the night, 28-21, when senior Drew Jost scored on a three-yard run with 1:30 to go in the third.
And Jost continued the CAK momentum with a 32-yard scoring run to make it 35-21 with 10:25 left in the third.
Jost scored his third of the night on a two-yard run to make it 42-21 with 6:55 left in the third, and Cunningham scored his third of the night on a 10-yard pass from Smith to make it 49-21 with 3:50 to go in the third.
And Jost turned on the 35-point mercy clock rule with another six-yard TD run to make it the eventual final with 30 seconds remaining in the third.