It was almost lost in East Hamilton's celebration -- the Hurricanes' first playoff victory and their first 10-win season -- but Blake Noorbergen has all of a sudden developed a Midas football touch.
East Hamilton is moving on in Tennessee's Class 4A playoffs following a running-clock 38-0 victory over visiting Marshall County.
Noorbergen touched the ball for the second and third times in his senior season and scored each time, once on a 69-yard pass from Hunter Moore and again on an 8-yard run, the latter starting the running clock with 9:05 to go in the third quarter.
One of the area's top sprinters, Noorbergen got his first touch in the previous week's win over Howard and scored on a 40-yard pass play, so the 6-foot, 175-pounder now has three touches and three TDs.
The Hurricanes might not have needed him, but he and reserve running backs Lamond Greer and Matt Milita stepped up and filled a potential offensive gap after Logan Jackson went down with an apparent knee injury. Jackson, the team's backfield workhorse and one of the area's rushing leaders, left the field under his own power but returned after halftime sporting a leg immobilizer.
He will be at the doctor's office this morning to have an MRI, but it is possible that he will be restricted to the sideline next week at least.
Before he left, though, the senior gave the Hurricanes a 14-0 lead on runs of 14 and 53 yards, the second score coming with 8:49 remaining in the second quarter.
"It is a tribute to the offensive line, to everybody on the offense," East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood said. "You have to give credit to Milita and Greer, but the offensive line always plays hard and gets after it."
Noorbergen got his first TD of the night on the 69-yard pass play just three minutes later, and Greer handed the Hurricanes a 28-0 lead with 1:13 left in the first half on a 22-yard run.
"It hurts to lose Logan, but we have other playmakers who stepped up big," Moore said.
Jackson was on his way to a big night, picking up 96 yards on nine first-half carries, but Milita and Greer combined for 152 yards to pick up the slack.
The defense limited the Tigers to 6 rushing yards and 102 passing yards.
"I thought the defense did a great job, but the coaches did a great job of getting us ready," linebacker Austin Gatewood said. "The defensive line did an awesome job and Francisco [Rodriguez] was in their backfield all night long."
As a unit, the defense had more than a half-dozen sacks or lost-yardage tackles, intercepted a pass, caused three fumbles and recovered two and broke up 10 passes.
The game was delayed about 15 minutes after Marshall County receiver Payne Smith suffered an apparent neck injury. The junior was placed on a backboard and taken to the hospital.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...