Touch Down thrills Austin Clark

photo Austin Clark, left, gets a high five from Drew Keith during football practice at Hixson High School in this file photo.
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As his team began to make its way from the Finley Stadium turf back into the stands, Austin Clark, with the game ball under his arm, paused and began dancing as his teammates clapped and patted him on the back.

The Hixson freshman, who was born with Down syndrome, had capped his team's 27-0 win over Grace Academy in the Best of Preps jamboree with a 65-yard touchdown run on the final play of the quarter.

"It was the whole team's idea," Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "When we got the ball back, several of the seniors came over and told me they wanted to get Austin in the game, so I called time out and told [Grace] Coach [Bob] Ateca that we were putting him in and giving him the ball.

"All the seniors wanted to be in there to block for Austin and watch out for him, but the Grace kids knew what was happening and they were great about it. You look at him over there, loving life and high-fiving everybody, and that's just a great memory."

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293.

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