East Hamilton was geared up to stop Signal Mountain's touted counter play, but Zack Bowman scored two touchdowns straight up the middle behind center John Evans and Signal Mountain rolled to a season-opening 34-13 home win over the Hurricanes.
The Eagles offense was more stop-and-go than the point-a-minute state championship bunch of 2010, fumbling twice inside East Hamilton's 30.
"We will be better next week," Signal coach Bill Price vowed. "You know how it is with that first game. They're always difficult."
First-year quarterback Reese Phillips appeared to have shaken the early jitters, tossing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Will Queen to give the Eagles an early 6-0 lead. He also threw a second-quarter 5-yard scoring pass to Andrew Price that boosted the Eagles to a 13-7 lead.
"We did OK," the 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior QB said. "I had a couple of dropped snaps and that really aggravates me. We'll be better, though, because we saw plenty to work on."
Phillips finished 8-for-13 for 80 yards. He was victimized by a handful of drops.
Bowman was the Eagles' big offensive weapon. He picked up 107 yards on just six carries as Signal, in a Price tradition, used eight backs to pick up 286 yards. Andrew Price added 77 yards and Tim McClendon rushed for 74 with a 39-yard TD run.
"We struggled a little but we have a lot of confidence in our offensive line," Bowman said. "I think we'll pick it up and play like the old days -- ground and pound."
Following Queen's scoring reception will 11 seconds left in the first period, East Hamilton came right back to tie it on Chas Hulsey's 1-yard run. Like Signal, though, the Hurricanes shanked the extra point.
Signal carried a 20-6 lead to the dressing room at halftime on Bowman's 32-yard run and extended the lead to 27-6 on McClendon's score, the only one of the third period.
The Hurricanes' final score came on a 20-yard pass from Hunter Moore to Bonza Monroe with 5:25 left, and Signal Mountain answered with Bowman's second rushing score, this one covering 52 yards.
There were three touchdowns called back, a 55-yard punt return and a 40-yard reception by Signal's Queen and an 85-yard kickoff return by the Hurricanes' Tre Herndon.
The two teams were flagged 23 times for a combined 223 yards with East Hamilton on the receiving end of 13 flags for 136.
Signal, which extended its win streak to 15 games, remains at home to play Tyner next week while East Hamilton makes a first-time visit to neighbor Ooltewah.