The running backs wearing the Tennessee all-star uniforms may not light up scoreboards on Saturday afternoons in coming years, but for one last Saturday night they were something very special.
The stable of backs gathered by Tennessee coach Tracy Malone piled up over 400 yards on the ground as the Tennessee all-stars put up the most points in the 11-year history of the series with 45-7 win over the Georgia all-stars.
Led by MVP Isiah Robinson of Hixson, who wound up three yards shy of a rushing record for this all-star game, Tennessee outscored Georgia 38-0 in the second half. Robinson's 103 yards on just six carries were part of a 407-yard total effort. Tennessee MVP Denzel Boyd of McMinn Central also threatened the record with 90 yards on nine carries.
But Tennessee's big night began with a pass.
Boyd-Buchanan's Jim Cardwell, getting one more chance to shine on his home field, put Tennessee on the board first after the defense stopped Georgia on downs in the final minute of the first quarter. Tad Whitaker of East Ridge followed with the first of his game-record six PATs.
Cardwell picked up a first down on a 9-yard completion to Ooltewah's Mike Williams. After Robinson made it goal-to-go on a nifty 16-yard run, Cardwell rolled right and found Bradley's Dee Crisp uncovered in the front corner of the end zone.
Georgia, which was badly outgained on the ground in the first half, was able to draw even thanks to a big play by the defense. Brainerd quarterback Sam Caffey, who was alternating series with Cardwell, was sandwiched by Ridgeland's Jermaine Conyers and Gordon Central's Jacob Mitchell, coughing up the football. Cartersville's Jesse House recovered on the Tennessee 21.
It took only four plays to push the tying TD across, with Ridgeland's Noah Cooper scoring a touchdown after being stopped inches from the goal on the play before.
Tennessee rushed for 131 yards in the first half, 48 coming on the night's most spectacular play a broken field run by Boyd that would have gone for more if not for an illegal block behind the play. As it was, his 72 yards in the first half topped Georgia's team total offense.
From the second half kickoff, Tennessee owned the third quarter.
A 59-yard burst by Central's Terry Tiller set up a 36-yard field goal by Whitaker. On the fourth play of the ensuing Georgia possession, Grace's Will Slack pounced on a Georgia fumble.
On first down, an end-around with Williams carrying broke wide open for a 31-yard score and a 17-7 lead. The quarter ended with Tennessee threatening on the 5 yard line.
Caffey ended the 11-play march on the fourth quarter's first play, making it 24-7, and Tiller, Boyd and Howard's Terrance Brooks closed out short drives late in the game with TD runs.
Jacob Mitchell of Gordon Central was the Georgia MVP with a pair of sacks.