Last Friday, East Ridge was supposed to be a test for the Anderson County Mavericks.
They were not.
Anderson County owned the night from the time they entered the field carrying American flags as fireworks exploded overhead and brought fans of both teams to their feet.
The patriotic fervor was merely a lead-in to the Mavericks decimating the visitors from Hamilton County by a score of 49-7 — even more impressive were the 35 points Anderson County posted in the first quarter.
Yes, you read that right: 35 points in the first 12 minutes.
The Mavericks took the first possession of the game and promptly marched 70 yards in seven plays. Marquise Gallahar scored on a three-yard run to end the drive.
Clayton Utley added the extra point and Anderson County led 7-0 with 9:57 left in the first quarter.
Just 30 seconds later — following a Pioneer fumble — Dalton Wilson pulled in a four-yard touchdown pass from Stanton Martin.
The Utley extra point made it 14-0 in favor of the Mavericks with 9:27 remaining in the first quarter.
Less than a minute later, Anderson County linebacker Ryan Moog scooped up a fumble and returned it seven yards for the score.
Utley kicked the extra point and the Mavericks led 21-0 with 8:30 left in the opening quarter.
Following a 21-yard punt return by Michael Carroll, Anderson County took over at the East Ridge 21-yard line.
Two plays later, Moog caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Martin.
Utley kicked the extra point and the Mavericks led 28-0 with 5:12 remaining in the first quarter.
The Anderson County defense forced an East Ridge punt.
Two plays later, Carroll scored on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Martin.
Utley added the PAT and the Mavericks led the shell-shocked Pioneers 35-0 with 3:00 left in the first quarter.
Anderson County closed the East Ridge offense down for the rest of the quarter but their offensive fireworks went into a lull until the mid-point of the second quarter.
The Mavericks went 89 yards in 10 plays as Carroll scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Martin.
Utley, presumably rested after such an active first quarter, kicked the extra point to push the Anderson County lead to 42-0.
Following an East Ridge punt on the ensuing possession, the Mavericks took possession on their own 33-yard line.
On the first play of the drive, Mason Phillips raced 67 yards for a touchdown.
Utley kicked the PAT and Anderson County led 49-0 with 3:09 left in the half.
The Pioneers had no answer and the Mavericks carried the 49-0 lead into the half.
The second half opened under a continuous clock as the “mercy rule” kicked in.
East Ridge managed a touchdown late in the third quarter and picked up the extra point.
That was the last scoring play of the game as the Mavericks ran out the clock.
“It was really about as good of a first half of football as I’ve ever seen here,” said Davey Gillum, head coach of the Mavericks. “Special teams played great, which was big. We pinned them deep every time we kicked off. Defense played lights out and the offense played well too.”
“We were fired up. We were trying to make a statement and we played in all phases about as well as we could,” he said.
Gillum noted that his starters only played in the first half and that half was played almost entirely in the East Ridge end of the field, thus the smaller yardage statistics that people are used to seeing from the prolific Anderson County offense.
Concerning the pregame flag tribute, Gillum said he talked to the team on Wednesday about doing something to honor America but left the decision to them.
“It was a good night and an opportunity to honor our country like it was intended. We’ve got kids that have dads in the military, people in the community in the military, and coaches who are ex-military men. What’s going on in the NFL is distasteful to say the least. We wanted to let out veterans know we appreciate them,” he said.
Martin finished 14-20 passing for 144 yards and four touchdowns.
Carroll had three receptions for 57 yards and two touchdowns while Moog had three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson had three receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown.
Phillips led the Mavericks with 77 yards and a touchdown on just four carries for an incredible 19.2 average per carry. Gallahar added 53 yards and a touchdown on five carries for an impressive 10.6 yards per carry,
Defensively, Cannon Carpenter, Chris Powell, and Zach Wax each had five total tackles to lead Anderson County.
Isaiah Wallace, Thomas Roberts, Colby Proffit, and Jacob McCall each recorded a quarterback sack.
Moog and Andrew Hatmaker each forced a fumble (Moog recovered two fumbles) while Austin Elliott intercepted a pass.
With the win, the Mavericks moved to 7-0. (3-0 in Region 2-4A). Previously unbeaten East Ridge falls to 5-1 (1-1 in the region).
Anderson County is off this week. They return to action on Oct. 13 when they visit Chattanooga Central (4-2 overall, 3-0 in Region 2-4A as of press time) in another region matchup.
First downs 11 15
Rushing yds. 24 199
Passing yds. 114 152
Comp/att/int 15-25-1 15-21-0
Total yds. 138 351
Turnovers 4 0
Penalties 9-83 5-64
Time of poss. 32:45 13:21