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Indians sink Admirals in Region 1-6A showdown

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 12, 2019 at 12:16 AM

KINGSPORT — Eight weeks into the high school football season and the Tribe is still rolling.

Behind its “Thunder and Lightning” rushing attack, Dobyns-Bennett rolled to a 38-13 win over Farragut on Friday night at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

Phillip “Thunder” Armitage had 113 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Tyler “Lightning” Tesnear finished with 125 rushing yards and two scores.

View Todd Brase’s photos from the game

Zane Whitson added to the Admirals’ despair, hitting 10 of 12 passes for 137 yards and running 26 yards for a touchdown. The junior quarterback also feasted on Farragut’s aggressive defense, doing a hard count multiple times to draw the Admirals offside when they crowded the line.

The victory put the Indians, ranked No. 6 in The Associated Press Class 6A poll, firmly in the driver’s seat for the Region 1-6A championship. D-B (7-0, 4-0) has won nine straight games dating to last season.

“We were able to control the action when we had the ball,” Tribe coach Joey Christian said. “It was just a great job all night. We were able to extend some drives on third-and-long. Third play of the game, Hayden Sherer catches a pass over here. Alex Kitzmiller has a big catch and Ben McCluskey catches one on our sideline. We were able to overcome when we got behind the chains.”

The Indians never trailed and their defensive play sealed the fate for the Admirals (3-4, 2-1). Jackson Martin kept the pressure on Farragut quarterback Gavin Wilkinson and had one of the Indians’ four fumble recoveries. Defensive end Jet Harris proved to be Wilkinson’s worst nightmare with three sacks.

“We changed up how we were rolling on defense and it improved us overall,” Harris said. “I’m just so glad to play on this team. It’s a great group of guys and it’s just a blessing to be out there with everybody. This was a game to prove we’re playing Dobyns-Bennett football now.”

FIRST-HALF FLOURISH

The Indians went 80 yards on their first offensive possession, capped by Tesnear’s 4-yard touchdown run.

D-B fumbled away the ball on its next possession, and the Admirals capitalized with a 58-yard scoring drive. On fourth-and-6, Wilkinson found tight end Alec Keathley in the left corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown that left Farragut down 7-6.

The Tribe answered on the next drive — Whitson throwing an 18-yard strike to Ben McCluskey for a 14-6 lead — and then it was D-B’s turn to take advantage of a turnover. Martin recovered the ball at the 31 when the Admirals mishandled a punt.

Armitage followed by going around the right side for a 12-yard touchdown. After getting the ball back late in the half, Whitson ran up the middle for his 26-yard score with 12 seconds on the clock, and the Tribe went to the locker room up 28-6.

“My eyes got real big. I was happy, I will tell you that,” Whitson said of seeing all the green space in front of him. “Whenever we set that up, our line did a great job opening it up and there was a perfect lane to the end zone.”

CLOSING IT OUT

After the teams traded fumbles on their first possessions of the second half, the Indians strung together an 11-play scoring drive capped by Jaden Alderson’s 23-yard field goal.

Farragut finally broke free on its next possession with a 79-yard pass play from Wilkinson to Hunter Shopovick to cut the lead to 31-13. Shopovick fumbled after a 20-yard gain on the Admirals’ next possession and the Indians slammed the door when Tesnear rumbled 28 yards for the game’s final score.

Sherer had three catches for 61 yards, and Dalton Harkleroad and McCluskey had two receptions apiece.

Wilkinson was 15-of-28 passing for 213 yards and the two TDs. Keathley had seven receptions for 72 yards and Shopovick hauled in four for 123 yards.

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