Sequatchie County has a reputation as a running team, but the best run the Indians had Friday night may have been a rundown by the defense.
Sequatchie had gone up by two scores with 5:46 to play in the District 7-AA high school game, only to see Notre Dame's Shaqualm McCoy burst a sweep around left end three plays later that looked headed for a long touchdown. Defensive back Jake Pickett ran McCoy down at the 9-yard line, however, and the Irish didn't convert the goal-to-go situation.
The Indians won 26-14.
McCoy was credited with a 57-yard run, but the Irish needed it to be 66. Two holding calls set them back and they eventually threw incomplete on fourth down from the 23.
"We get that in and who knows?" Notre Dame coach Josh Sellers said. "I know we still would've been behind, but I'd have liked to have seen what would've happened. Catching him from behind doesn't happen too often."
One play into the second quarter, Sequatchie County (6-2, 2-1) owned a 14-0 lead. Juan Martinez added a 36-yard field goal in the final minute of the period, but the next play after the kickoff the Indians gave up a 61-yard touchdown on a middle screen to McCoy, who juggled the ball for a few steps before turning the corner and getting to the sideline. That made it 17-14.
Notre Dame (4-3, 0-3) held the Indians to 87 rushing yards in the first half, but quarterback Eli Stout threw for 87.
"We didn't play our best offensively," Sequatchie coach Chad Barger said. "I thought our quarterback did a great job. He can throw the ball a lot better than people give him credit for."
The third quarter looked as though it would be scoreless, but then Sequatchie started to drive on the ground late in the period but fumbled inside the 5. That did lead to a safety when Blake Cates wrapped up quarterback Josh Moore and forced a fumble out of the end zone.
"The first quarter we didn't execute well," Sellers said. "Our kids came back in the second quarter, and when we scored right before the half I thought that would would've been a boost. It should've been. Going three and out to start the second half didn't help."
Barger had praise for his team's offensive line, which includes freshman Jared Bass. The running game ultimately got going in the second half.
Leading rusher Jerry Fain eventually ended up with 143 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.
"One thing we had to see what they were doing," Barger said. "Our coaches upstairs let us know a couple of things they were doing defensively. At halftime we made some adjustments and exposed a few things with our running game. That group over there was well prepared. They're a lot better football team than they were last year."
Shane Yother supported Fain with 85 yards on 12 carries.
McCoy ended with 160 yards from scrimmage for the Irish.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.