With their postseason possibilities hanging in the balance, the Signal Mountain Eagles found strength in their strengths in a 21-14 win over Kingston on Friday.
Defensively, Ripley Hutcherson and a tenacious front seven controlled the visiting Yellow Jackets.
Offensively, Hutcherson ran for 137 yards and two scores, and dynamic wide receiver Blake Wolfard continually beat double coverage for eight catches and 125 yards.
And across both lines, the Eagles were more physical and grabbed victory in a type of game that they frequently have let slip away this season. They entered Friday with five losses by a combined 21 points, including 35-32 last week to Sweetwater after rallying for five second-half touchdowns to take the lead late before falling.
(READ MORE: Final scores and photos from Friday night's Chattanooga-area high school football games)
"Of course you think about that if you're human," Signal Mountain coach Josh Roberts said after two second-half turnovers and a late blocked field-goal attempt kept giving Kingston life in a game the Eagles dominated. "But if you keep swinging the sledgehammer, eventually that wall is going to wall."
Signal Mountain improved to 3-5 overall and 2-2 in Region 3-3A, keeping its playoff hopes alive with a dominating defensive performance.
Other than a 54-yard run for a score on its first play and a fourth-and-7 completion on a blown coverage for a 37-yard touchdown, Kingston (5-3, 1-3) managed only 84 yards on 35 plays against the swarming Eagles. The Yellow Jackets, coming off a 17-14 defeat against McMinn Central, lost for the third time in four games.
Despite commanding a double team from the moment he left the locker room, Wolfard's presence allowed the Eagles to rush for a season-high 208 yards and three scores, including Chase Townson's 17-yard touchdown.
Signal Mountain has an open date next week before an Oct. 21 nonregion game at Marion County and the regular-season and region finale at Brainerd. The Eagles are seeking their sixth straight postseason appearance, and they can still finish with a winning record provided they make the playoffs and keep adding to the correct column.
"We've been through a lot," Roberts said, "but we all want to be peaking at the end of the season."
Contact Jay Greeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.