Three plays into Friday night's game at Baylor's Heywood Stadium, Red Raiders senior tailback George Porter was tempted to look back at the sea of red that had parted the defensive front of the Pope John Paul II football team.
As he ran for the first of his three touchdowns while gaining 175 yards in the game, Porter knew his offensive line had delivered the first of many devastating blows in Baylor's 51-3 domination of the visiting Knights from Hendersonville.
"An offense is nothing without the line," said Porter, who scored on runs of 56, 57 and 3 yards. "When I saw that first hole, it was the line. What else can I say?"
Baylor coach Phil Massey also was quick to credit the play of Ben Pettway, Cole McMahan, Jon Schmissrauter, Trey Foshee, Mike Thompson and Chandler Gouger. With four seniors among the starting group, the linemen set the tone and allowed Porter and sophomore Adrian Harris, who scored two rushing TDs, to set the fast pace for the night.
Baylor (4-1, 1-1) gained 445 yards in total offense and 364 on the ground and was strong defensively in the Division II-AA contest.
"Four of those guys were starters last year, and we have focused on having a veteran offensive line," Massey said. "We have been able to sustain some drives, and we did that tonight. Those kids are continuing to come out and work hard to get better every week.
"They just try to create gaps and creases. George and Adrian are good enough backs to where they can pick their holes and take it the distance," Massey added. "It was a good defensive performance, too. We challenged our defense this week to have guys flying to the football and playing with a lot of enthusiasm. We know the second half of our season is going to be pretty tough. We will be going into it healthy and playing with some confidence."
Baylor quarterback Nick Tiano also turned in a solid night, completing his first four passes and finding George Pettway for a 13-yard score - a 57-yarder that ended his night with 10:26 left in the second quarter.
Harris found the end zone on runs of 13 and 9 yards. Freshman Kalvin Watson finished out the scoring for Baylor in the third quarter with a 2-yard run after a Knights turnover.
Baylor's defense - led by Ryan Parker's six tackles and Henry Moore's five tackles as well as an interception by Colton Duncan - had a shutout until a two-minute drive by the Knights (2-3, 0-3) ended with a Jackson Morris 24-yard field goal with six seconds left.
"This was a big win for us because we had just lost a district game," Porter said of rebounding after falling to Montgomery Bell Academy on the road. "We wanted to get that bad taste out of our mouths. It was a total team effort."
Contact Greg Thompson at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.