Flags, fracas almost overshadow Central romp past East Ridge [photos]

Flags, fracas almost overshadow Central romp past East Ridge [photos]

October 7th, 2017 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

East Ridge's Keanu Johnson tackles Central's Michael McGhee during their prep football game at East Ridge High School on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in East Ridge, Tenn.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Flags, fracas almost overshadow Central romp past East Ridge

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There were big plays — Central quarterback Jaheim Jones had the best night of his career — there was the TV coverage with innumerable timeouts, and there were 25 flags for 254 yards in penalties, which made for a long game.

But the most excitement came when the cameras were turned off after Central's 41-6 Region 2-4A victory Friday at East Ridge, as the teams met to shake hands and a pair of assistant coaches exchanged words and then had to be restrained.

However, no blows were exchanged and the teams were separated very quickly by police and calmer heads, although a handful of fans began jumping the fence that surrounds Shanks Field at Raymond James Stadium.

Neither host coach Tim James, who had a few choice words for the officiating crew, nor winning coach Cortney Braswell, who also chided the officials on more than one occasion, commented on the postgame fracas.

Central (5-2, 4-0) never took its foot off the gas, scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns with the last coming with 1:35 to play — a 5-yard run by Vincent McColley, one of his two rushing touchdowns.

"To be honest with you, nobody ever had a problem running up the score or punching in one (late) on us," Braswell said. "We don't worry about the score. Our whole philosophy is to play football. It's our job to score and their job to stop us, and that's the brand that we play. I've been on both sides of it, and it wasn't us making a statement. It was us just going out and running our plays."

The Pioneers (5-2, 1-2) loaded up the box and tried their best to limit Pounders power runner Michael McGhee (46 total yards), but Jones made them pay.

"(McGhee) is still a little dinged up from last week, but it seems like most teams are now trying to do that. But when things like that happen, good football teams find other players to step up," Braswell said. "Jaheim played really, really well at times, and then he had some plays that were not so good.

"He made a couple of plays tonight where he stepped up in the pocket and had some big completions with big-time throws against great coverage."

A junior, Jones completed 12 of 17 passes for 338 yards with touchdown tosses to McGhee and T.J. Payne.

"To see him come out and make some throws like that against great coverage is really, really good for our football team," Braswell said.

The Central defense also turned in a quality performance, limiting East Ridge to 75 rushing yards.

The Pioneers' lone score, coming in the third quarter, was a 2-yard run by quarterback Eric Bennett. They had a long score nullified by one of the 25 penalties.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him on Twitter @wardgossett.