ROGERSVILLE --- Rogersville City School won its third straight TMSAA Area 1 championship, knocking off Sullivan Middle School, 28-12, Tuesday night at Cherokee.
"We're just really excited we were able to pull it out against a tough team in Sullivan," said first-year coach Forrest Gladson.
The Warriors had just closed the regular season last week with a 34-14 win over the Pirates."We just played them the week before and they had us scouted out really well and played us tough," Gladson said. "But we persevered in the end and got a big win."
River Bailey's interception midway through the first quarter set up a 64-yard touchdown pass from Jt Brooks to Fletcher Hickman and a 6-0 lead with 3:09 left in the period.
The Pirates answered with a four-play drive which culminated in a 48-yard touchdown run by Anthony Hammonds to tie it at 6-6.
The Warriors quickly countered. Brooks hit Huston Hamilton with a 31-yard shovel pass. Devin Gilbert followed with a 19-yard touchdown run. Hamilton's two-point conversion run put RCS up, 14-6 with 27 seconds left in the first.
An interception by Carter Reynolds ended the next Sullivan drive, but RCS stalled and punted.
Ethan Ward's 31-yard touchdown pass to Luke Hensley capped a six-play, 55-yard drive and cut the Warriors' lead to 14-12.
Rogersville came out fired up for the second half, scoring on the first two possessions of the second half.
After returning the kickoff to the Sullivan 49, the Warriors moved to the end zone in two plays: a 43-yard pass from Brooks to Hamilton, and a six-yard keeper by Brooks that extended the RCS lead to 20-12.
The Pirates drove to the RCS 37, but on third-and-10, Grayson Cowan picked off a Ward pass and rambled 61 yards for a touchdown. Hickman's run made it, 28-12.
"They're a great group," Gladson said afterward. "Defensively, they broke a record this year with 33 takeaways. All of them understood their role. With that many players, it's hard to get them all in. But they all understood their roles in the games."
This is the Warriors' third straight and fourth overall TMSSA Area 1 championship.
"It's a great win for 21 eighth graders who had big shoes to fill for the past champions," said Gladson. Larry Pearce, who coached RCS for 39 years before retiring after last season, was on hand for the game and postgame celebration.
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