BENTON, Tenn. - When they look at the video this morning, Polk County coach Derrick Davis will be looking for remedies and McMinn Central's Josh Goodin will be seeing one building block after another.
"When you have a 21-point halftime lead, it shouldn't come down to a fourth-down stop late," Davis said after his Wildcats turned away an upset bid with less than two minutes to play to preserve a 21-14 victory over the neighboring county rival Chargers. "Here it is Week 5 and we still have a lot of improving to do."
As he and his players went through the postgame congratulatory ritual, Davis tried to keep the frown off his face. As he turned from the final handshake, the frown quickly turned to a grimace and he all but groaned aloud.
"I'm happy we got the win but -- I can't put my finger on it -- they just played harder than we did, especially in the second half."
The Wildcats didn't play all that well at any point, converting two interceptions by Chris Wimberly and Blake Cross into two of the first-half scores and driving from beyond their half of the field for a score only once -- a 25-yard run by Zach Miller.
It was as much their defense of Miller as anything that allowed the Chargers as many opportunities as they got. He was held to 90 yards on 24 carries, snipping his 13-game streak of 100-yard rushing games.
"They just played harder than we did. They never quit," Davis said.
The Chargers had an extra man in the box, and it was as if linebacker Gage Johnson's sole mission was to meet Miller at the line of scrimmage. The senior unofficially totaled 10 tackles.
"You know with a kid like Miller, well, anybody knows what Polk wants to do," Goodin said.
Of course, one good idea is to also have a back capable of Miller-like yards. The Chargers did in Denzell Boyd, who had two touchdown runs included in a 16-for-165 night.
"We didn't make any changes at the half," Goodin said. "We just didn't beat ourselves. We just couldn't overcome our [first-half] mistakes."
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.