SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — Throttled. Facing a Clay County defense that had allowed just 67 points in its first 11 games this year — an average of six per game, including six shutouts — South Pittsburg's offense never took its foot off the accelerator Friday night, rolling to a 57-13 win in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs.
The top-ranked Pirates (11-0) scored on seven of their first eight possessions and led 50-6 at halftime.
"For about the past five games we've come out of the gate really fast," said Pirates coach Vic Grider, whose team scored four touchdowns in the first quarter for the second straight week. "That says a lot about our older guys. They're hungry and they know getting on the other team early sets the tone and discourages them.
"If we can keep that up, we'll be a tough out for anybody."
It was the Pirates' 700th all-time win and the 10th time in an 11-season span they have advanced to at least the quarterfinals. Next week they will host Gordonsville (5-7), which won 17-7 against Whitwell (3-9) on Friday to end the Tigers' bid to repeat as state champions.
Clay County finished 8-4.
South Pittsburg took the opening kickoff and found the end zone in seven plays when senior running back Ronto Tipton scored on a 14-yard run. Sophomore DeAndre Kelly swept off the left side for a 42-yard touchdown run, and that's when the points started to come in bunches.
After Cameron Trussell returned a fumble by the Bulldogs 37 yards to the 1, Tipton added the second of his three TD runs and Jaylyn Hubbard returned an interception 52 yards for a score.
Tipton, a Mr. Football semifinalist, finished with 146 yards on nine carries and also had a 2-point conversion run.
"If you can jump on teams quick, it takes away their hope," said Tipton, who has scored seven TDs on his 14 carries in the playoffs. "All the credit goes to our line. If it wasn't for those guys up front, I wouldn't be able to do what I did."
South Pittsburg had outgained the Bulldogs 270-69 by halftime and finished with a 370-184 advantage in total yards, with 322 of that coming on 31 rushes.