Sevier County soars over Seymour
It was Seymour's most brilliant moment of the first half.
Quarterback Nick Sexton had been perfect on four passes, driving the Eagles 80 yards in seven plays. A 16-yard touchdown pass to Larry Kennedy made Thursday night's duel with Sevier County a one-score game.
How fleeting that moment was.
Dorian Banks took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and the Smoky Bears sprinted away in a 53-14 victory at Householder Field. Sevier County scored on their next three possessions and a punt block to take a commanding lead into halftime.
“We had a great second quarter,” said Bears coach Steve Brewer. “It might've been the most productive second quarter we've had since I've been here. That really broke the game open, I felt, the second quarter.”
That's for sure after Seymour trailed just 7-0 when the period started. Sevier County (6-1, 4-0 2-AAA) made it 14-0 on the quarter's first play when Banks took it in from three yards out.
Then, the fun began.
Sexton drove Seymour (2-5, 1-3) straight down the field, connecting twice with Braxton Dockery for 43 yards on the scoring drive. The Eagles were within a touchdown when Banks broke their backs.
“That was huge,” said Seymour coach Jim Moore. “J.J. (Jerman)'s been putting the ball in the end zone every kick. We knew they run a sideline return to the bench. We told them all week long, 'J.J., either you put the ball in the end zone or they're making a sideline return.'
“I said 'Guys, you've got to play the sideline.' But they did a good job blocking and we missed tackles and he's off to the races.”
The Eagles didn't gain a first down the rest of the first half while Sevier County racked up four more touchdowns. Luke Manning finished 9 of 15 for 193 yards and two touchdowns for the Bears while seven different rushers combined for 139 yards on the ground. Sexton was 14 of 32 for 196 yards and those two touchdowns but Seymour had just 46 rushing yards.
Banks, Manning and Zach Sauls had rushing scores for the Bears. It was 47-7 by halftime.
“It felt good,” Sauls said. “It felt like we could score from anywhere, any place at any time.”
Sevier County started slowly on offense, but it didn't matter. Points came from other phases, like Devante Matthews' fumble return for the first touchdown in the opening quarter. Or Banks' kickoff return score.
It felt like Sauls was right when the Bears added another touchdown with 8.8 seconds to go before the half, getting a blocked punt return score from Dalton Ford.
“Our guys picked on defense,” Banks said. “We just got a lot of energy off that. We feed off each other's big plays.”
Almost all those big plays came from Sevier County on Thursday. The teams traded touchdowns in the second half, with Connor Bailey catching a short scoring pass from Manning and Sexton getting a second scoring strike, this one to Jaylen Minifield.
But the Eagles couldn't recover after that early knockout blow from Banks.
“That was momentum,” Sexton said. “It was good for them, a good play by them. Good setup by the wall. It takes the breath out of you. But we can't let stuff like that bring us down for good.”