ATHENS, Tenn. - During halftime of Friday night's Class 6A second-round playoff game against Riverdale, a McMinn County student dressed as a Cherokee fell off a horse. The horse scurried away while the student tried to get his bearings.
Unfortunately, it was the same sort of night for the Cherokees football team: They could never get on the right track and lost 31-6.
The Murfreesboro team jumped to a 17-point halftime lead in advancing to the Class 6A quarterfinals. Riverdale (9-3) will move on to face Siegel in Murfreesboro, while McMinn finished the season 10-2.
Riverdale averaged only 4 yards per carry, but McMinn hurt itself with bad penalties and a poor special-teams performance that included four kickoff penalties and two fumbles -- one recovered by the Warriors.
Warriors quarterback Dillon Woodruff found a wide-open Aron Aydelott for a 51-yard score on Riverdale's first possession. The same play worked on two other occasions for big gains in the first half.
"Our offensive line did a good job blocking their front four," Woodruff said. "McMinn has the best defensive line we'd seen all year, but our backfield and offensive line did a great job of executing and blocking tonight."
Woodruff finished with 128 passing yards, all but 13 coming in the first half. Riverdale's wing-T attack finished with 203 yards on the ground.
"I was shocked the score went in that direction. McMinn is a good football team that's well coached," Riverdale coach Ron Aydelott said. "Defensively, we shut them down. They had one big play, but that's a good night considering the caliber of backs that they have."
Riverdale stretched the lead to 14-0 on a touchdown by Scottie Boykin, who finished with a team-high 66 yards. Then after a fumble on the ensuing kickoff by McMinn, the Warriors' Todd Huber kicked a 31-yard field goal.
Dre Sanders took a handoff 32 yards on the Cherokees' second possession. A 5-yard run by Corbin Powers and an offside penalty got them to the 14, but penalties pushed them back to the 30 and they eventually turned it over on downs.
McMinn got on the board when Kelvin Wells took a counter 31 yards up the middle for a third-quarter score. Wells finished with 102 yards on 16 carries, pushing his final total to 1,642. Riverdale answered with a 16-play, 80-yard drive that milked 8:05 off the clock. Boykin's second score of the night put the game away.
Sanders finished with 57 yards on the ground for McMinn to finish the season with 1,195.
"That's on us for not being prepared," McMinn coach Bo Cagle said. "We looked lost, were reading wrong and we didn't tackle well.
"We picked a bad time to play our worst game of the year."