SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — Missing a few of its big guns, South Pittsburg found a pistol.
The results was a rapid-fire first half that helped Class 1A's second-ranked Pirates pepper Class 3A's ninth-ranked Polk County and win 34-14.
Because of injuries, Pirates coach Vic Grider installed a few plays out of the pistol formation, which caused just enough confusion among Wildcats defenders to allow a 28-point first-half scoring barrage.
"We're so limited play-wise because we just don't have all our guys healthy yet," Grider said. "We decided to put in a few plays out of that pistol that we haven't shown all year, and it helped get us going.
"They had hit us in the face the last two years, and we had preached being tough all week against them. I think we came out and played awfully well."
After going three-and-out on the game's opening series, the Pirates scored on their next four series, each touchdown coming more easily than the last.
Facing a fourth-and-3, Jake Stone connected with Antonio Chubb on an 11-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring for the Pirates.
South Pittsburg struck for three TDs in the second quarter, starting with Demetric "Little Man" Johnson's 12-yard run and followed by two more scores from Chubb. The first came when he scooped up a Johnson fumble at the 1 and dove into the end zone. His 40-yard TD catch converted a fourth-and-1 just four seconds before the end of the first half.
Johnson, in only his second week back from injury, rushed for 173 yards on 14 carries, and sophomore Jajuan Lankford continued his steady season with 155 yards on 20 carries.
Junior quarterback Jake Stone threw for 117 yards all in the first half, and while he was also intercepted for the first time this season, he picked off two passes from his safety position on defense.
"When we've got everybody in the backfield healthy, we've just got too many options for defenses to stop," Stone said. "They never know who's going to get the ball or if we're going to throw it."
Despite falling into the early hole and having its offense shut down in the first half, Polk rallied to rush for more than 200 yards in the final two quarters.
"That first half, they were just a lot tougher than we were," Wildcats coach Derrick Davis said. "They doesn't happen much at Polk County, but they took it to us. They outplayed us and outcoached us tonight, and it looks like they're getting healthy and loading up for another run in the playoffs."
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...