Escape from Morristown
It was the kind of play that was so easy two weeks earlier.
This time quarterback Luke Manning and Sevier County had to work for their touchdowns. Trailing Morristown East on Friday, Manning, flushed out of the pocket, got on the run before ripping a 47-yard bomb to Jacob Whaley.
“Luke was running for his life, so I kind of took off to the right away from the safety,” Whaley said. “I look up and the ball’s coming to me. It’s not a very good pass. I had to make a play on it but I got into the end zone. I was like, ‘Thank goodness. I finally caught one tonight.”The catch lifted the Smoky Bears to a 14-10 win over the Hurricanes at Burke-Toney Stadium. It was a victory, just not a very pretty one.
“We’d been trying to get (another score) all night and it just wasn’t going our way,” Manning said. “We weren’t executing the way we wanted to.”
Manning had two touchdowns, one on a 5-yard jog late in the first half that finally got his team on the board and then again in the second with the pass to Whaley. The quarterback had 250 yards passing but he also threw three interceptions.
It was a difficult night for the Bears against an East team that made Sevier County coach Steve Brewer sweat. The Hurricanes got a 39-yard field goal on their second drive of the game to take a 3-0 lead. It took much longer for the Bears to gain momentum.
Sevier County couldn’t get more than a handful of yards on the same short passes that turned into touchdowns against Bearden in Week 0. Other promising throws were dropped. Penalties and turnovers killed drives.
“Nothing was easy for us offensively,” Brewer said. “I didn’t think we were at our best executing but certainly they were there to make plays. It just wasn’t a very good night offensively for us. I think the game was won in the second half by our defense, keeping them off the board.”
East’s final score came late in the first half when a long kickoff return after Manning’s first TD set the Hurricanes up 33 yards from the end zone. It only took three plays for Logan Wallace to put East back on top, 10-7, at half.
The Bears stopped their hosts twice on fourth down in the fourth quarter. Morristown didn’t threaten the entire second half.
The Hurricanes best chance came when they had four throws from the 50-yard line in the fourth that all fell incomplete. Wallace finished with 60 yards on the ground, but just five after halftime.
Ultimately, it was a victory for Sevier County. It just wasn’t the way they imagined it.
“We’ve got to work a lot harder in practice,” Austin Pope, who had a 31-yard catch in the first half to set up a touchdown, said. “We slacked off this week. We got to get motivated for next week.”