Reese Phillips could not wait to get back on the field.
After last week's disastrous fourth quarter at Blackmon led to the worst loss in program history, Phillips and the Signal Mountain Eagles rebounded with a 38-6 Region 7-AA win over visiting Grundy County on Friday night.
For Phillips, who threw three fourth-quarter interceptions the week before, a nearly flawless performance Friday against the Yellow Jackets was a much-needed tonic.
"I was eager to play," said Phillips, who finished 11-of-13 for 219 yards and three scores and completed passes to six receivers. "I was so excited just to play again and get back out here. We did some good things tonight on offense, and it was good to get back out there.
"I threw some interceptions last week, and I've been wanting to get back out and put that behind me."
Signal Mountain coach Bill Price made a call for Phillips on the game's first play -- a perfect 8-yard hitch to Jon Patton. After Tim McClendon's bruising 28-yard touchdown run put Signal on the board, Price turned to Phillips and the strong-armed junior quarterback controlled the first half.
Seven of Signal's 13 first-half plays were passes, and Phillips completed six of them. Patton and fellow senior receiver Will Queen each had three catches and a touchdown grab before the intermission as the Eagles (4-1, 2-0) took a 21-0 lead into the break.
"We have had some success stopping the run, but we knew they had some weapons in the passing game," Grundy County coach Nick Bryant said. "They have a heck of a football team, especially offensively, but our kids stayed in there and fought."
The Yellow Jackets (2-3, 0-2) dominated time of possession in the opening half, running more than twice as many plays (31 to 13) as the Eagles. Even after Phillips landed another potential knockout blow -- a perfectly thrown timing route down the sideline to freshman Harrison Moon for a 28-0 lead -- Grundy refused to go away.
"They fought us for everything," Price said. "Give them a lot of credit because they played hard.
"We put some points up and moved the ball and played a lot of kids, but we weren't very sharp. There was no rhythm."
Grundy's physical approach on each side of the ball contributed to Signal's sluggishness. Yellow Jackets quarterback Hayden Holland, who worked the middle and edges with the veer throughout the first half, completed three consecutive passes, including a 49-yarder to Josh Rhea, as Grundy answered Signal's third-quarter touchdown. Holland's 7-yard strike to Austin Nolan put the visitors on the board and Signal back to work.
Signal extended its lead on its next possession on Robert Turner's 3-yard score and closed the scoring with Dane DeWet's 32-yard field goal.
Getting back in the win column was the No. 1 goal for the Eagles; now continuing to get better becomes the objective, especially with Class 1A's top-ranked South Pittsburg Pirates on deck next week.
"We have some things to improve on, no doubt about," said Signal linebacker and fullback Zach Bowman, who had 65 yards of offense and recorded two tackles for loss and an interception. "We had some blown assignments and some mistakes, but it's our job to make sure we get that stuff fixed."
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...