Despite a disappointing regular season this year, 2018 Class 1A state champion Whitwell proved it still has plenty of fight left.
The Tigers put together the biggest upset of the first round of the TSSAA football playoffs in any classification Friday night, traveling to fourth-ranked Monterey and winning 21-7 against the previously unbeaten Wildcats.
Whitwell jumped out to a 14-0 first-half lead, and after Monterey cut the deficit in half just before halftime, the Tigers added a fourth-quarter score and made the lead stand.
After recovering a fumble on the game's opening possession, Whitwell needed just one play to find the end zone as Brandon Hammill connected with Cole Burns on a 25-yard touchdown pass.
On the Tigers' next possession, they covered 83 yards in five plays, with Trenton Stockwell scoring on a 58-yard run for a two-score lead late in the first quarter.
Whitwell took more than nine minutes off the clock to open the third quarter, driving to the Monterey 12 in 14 plays before turning the ball over on downs. But after trading punts, the Tigers put the game away on a 37-yard scoring run by Cole Burns with 3:41 remaining.
Whitwell (3-8) will travel next week to Gordonsville (4-7), which won 20-6 against Copper Basin (6-5).
* South Pittsburg 48, Jo Byrns 7: The top-ranked Pirates needed four or fewer plays to score each of their first four touchdowns, and sophomore running back DeAndre Kelly ran for 105 yards on just five carries including a TD.
Mr. Football semifinalist Ronto Tipton added 58 yards and scored on three of his four carries. The Pirates (10-0), who held the Red Devils (2-9) to 104 total yards, will next host Clay County (8-3), a 28-2 winner against Sale Creek (4-7).
Junior quarterback Brayden Sanders was 6-of-11 passing for 118 yards and a touchdown.
"I thought those first few drives we took control of the line of scrimmage pretty quick," Pirates coach Vic Grider said. "Any time you're playing somebody that you're better than and who's struggling, you want to jump on them quick, and I thought we did a good job of that."
* Meigs County 41, Happy Valley 6: Mr. Football semifinalist Aaron Swafford scored three first-quarter touchdowns to put the Tigers in control early. Swafford also threw a 64-yard scoring pass to Will Meadows and finished with 160 yards rushing and 96 passing.
The Tigers (10-1), who outgained Happy Valley 362-70 in total yards, will next host South Greene (10-1), which won 20-7 against Rockwood (5-6).
"We didn't want to let them hang around because they had won seven games and if they got some confidence they could be tough to put away," Tigers coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "I was really proud of the way our defense played. We were able to put it away early and then get some other guys some experience."
* Bledsoe County 28, East Robertson 6: The Warriors (8-3) advanced to the second round for the first time in six seasons and will travel to fifth-ranked Watertown (9-2), which won 47-0 against Tellico Plains (3-8). Colby Rogers ran for 193 yards on 32 carries and caught three passes for 57 yards as Bledsoe ended East Robertson's season at 5-6.
* Rhea County 47, Knoxville Fulton 14: On the strength of a 28-point second quarter, the Eagles (9-2) pulled away from the visiting Falcons (3-8). Kyle Carr scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and threw a short touchdown pass, and Dalton Hampton added two short scoring runs as well.
Rhea threw just one pass and outrushed Fulton 258-104, and the Eagles' Caden Wicks recovered one of Fulton's four fumbles in the end zone for another score. Rhea County will travel next week to second-ranked and unbeaten Powell, which rolled 60-14 against Lenoir City (1-10).