Anderson County High School’s dismantling of the East Ridge Pioneers took a while to unfold, but after nine possessions — and nine scores — the Mavs took the long ride home with a 62-14 region win.
“We played a pretty complete game,” Head Coach Davey Gillum said after the contest. “The line blocked hard, the backs ran hard, the receivers were lights out, and Stanton (Martin) was … Well, he’s Stanton. That’s why he’s in the running for ‘Mr. Football.’”
Anderson County had a couple of areas that weren’t as stellar as the rest of its game.
The Mavs had “trouble” with East Ridge’s quarterback, Alonzo Russell.
Russell’s sheer athletic ability led to the two East Ridge scores. Elusive in the backfield, he bought time with his legs to make two scoring strikes — one to Eli King covering 46 yards and one to Nico Johnikin covering 40 yards — after being hounded out of the pocket.
“He’s (Russell) a big kid, he’s athletic, and he has a big arm,” Gillum said. “He can make plays ... I can see him playing at the next level.”
The Mavs also had trouble shooting themselves in the foot Friday night. Flagged 16 times for 125 yards, the Mavs simply regrouped and went back to work after penalties.
“We need to work on that,” Gillum said. “We can’t have penalties like that.”
Anderson County punted zero times, converted seven of nine third down conversions and were perfect on its two fourth down attempts.
The offense racked up 631 yards on the night and was almost evenly split between rushing (303 yards) and passing (328 yards).
The offensive and defensive lines for the Mavs were dominating. The Pioneers had 30 yards on the ground and 155 through the air. The passing yards were courtesy of Russell’s ability escape the Mav defensive pressure.
“Our O-line and D-line really controlled the game,” Gillum said.
East Ridge opened the game with a nice drive, moving from the Pioneer 30 to the Mav 25 and setting up shop with a first and 10. There was an early indication of Russell’s ability when scrambled to buy time and hit King for a 24-yard toss on a third and long situation. But Russell’s scrambling ability also cost the Pioneers when he was stripped of the ball while buying time and Cannon Carpenter jumped on the lose pigskin.
It was the only real sustained drive the hosts would have on the evening and they came away empty-handed.
The Mavs took 11 plays to go 79 yards and put up the first points on a 17-yard Ryan Moog run. Steve Wagner tacked on the point after and with 5:45 left in the first quarter Anderson County took control of the contest.
Logan Berry hauled in a 46-yard pass from Martin after an East Ridge punt. Wagner put up the point after and the Mavs tallied a second score with 3:04 showing in the first. The second drive lasted three plays and covered 50 yards.
After two plays netted four yards for the Pioneers, Russell slipped away from the defensive pressure and found King 35 yards downfield for a touchdown covering 46-yards.
With 1:48 left in the first the Mavs held a one touchdown lead at 14-7.
With Anderson County’s offense clicking, it was plenty of time to get another score in before the quarter break. A punishing run from Moog, and a trademark Martin to Michael Carroll pass for 32 yards, set up a Martin to Carpenter scoring toss (covering 13 yards) that couldn’t have been prettier with ribbons on it.
In four plays the Mavs took a 21-7 lead with 37.3 seconds left in the first.
The Mavs helped East Ridge early in the second quarter: An encroachment call helped with a first down and a called penalty for pass interference against the Mavs moved the ball, but after 10 plays the hosts still had to punt.
Moog and Marquis Gallaher did yeoman’s work as the Mavs started on their own 23, eating up chunks of real estate and time as Anderson County marched 77 yards in four plays. Cannon pulled in a key 18-yard pass on a third and five to keep the drive alive, the senior receiver taking a solid hit as the ball was delivered.
Gallaher got the call from two yards out put the points on the board for the score. With Wagner’s kick it was 28-7.
East Ridge kept it interesting. Russell again bought time with his legs and on a first and five (The Mavs donated to the cause with an encroachment) from the 40 he found Johnikins in the end zone for the Pioneers’ second and final score of the night.
The Mavs followed with what the Mavs do best: Overcome adversity.
On a drive that covered, officially, 46 yards, Anderson County overcame two holding calls, a false start, and a personal foul before Martin and Carroll decided enough was enough and connected on a 19 yard score. Wagner made it 35-14.
The Mavs got the ball after running the Pioneers out of downs and to show the previous drive was more fluke than the way they really do business, Anderson County knuckled down.
Martin and Carroll connected three times on a nine-play drive that covered 53 yards and took all of 1:17 to complete — Carroll getting the call from eight yards out. Wagner took the Mavs into the half up 42-14.
Anderson County used nine plays to start the second half scoring. Starting a their own 33 Gallaher and Moog again hit the dirt, Carpenter made another nice catch, but the Mavs still faced a daunting fourth and eight from the Pioneer 30.
Okay, maybe not so daunting. Martin found Carroll and Carroll found the end zone. Wagner was pushed back five yards after a false start was called on the Mavs and the senior kicker’s perfect night was wide left. With 8:54 in the third the Mavs held a 48-14 lead.
Anderson County closed out the third quarter with a punishing ground attack. Gallaher popped a 23-yard run to get the drive going. Moog contributed an 18-yard jaunt. Noah Colorusso finished the drive with two four-yard carries — the second of which led to a touchdown celebration. Wagner was back on track and the Mavs took a 55-14 lead with 3:27 to play in the third.
The final score came from the Mav’s “second string.” Sophomore Stone Hatmaker led a 66-yard scoring drive against the East Ridge starting defense that featured nice runs by Joshua Godwin Miller, a couple of nice pitch and catches from Hatmaker to Cam Thomas, and a 26-yard break out from Grayson Terry.
Hatmaker swept right for a three yard TD to make the Mavs a perfect nine for nine. Wagner tacked on the point after for the final score, 62-14.
The Mavs have an open week this week, but will face last year’s region runner-up the Chattanooga Central Purple Pounders on Oct. 12 — when the Mavs start the meat and potatoes of their region run.
“A lot people back home don’t know a lot out Chat Central, but they have a traditionally good program,” Gillum said. “Right now we have to focus on the next game. We can’t just expect to show up and win, we have to take it.”