In the biggest games their teams have faced so far this season — against rival opponents — a pair of Chattanooga-area quarterbacks were absolutely clutch last Friday.
With his team trailing by 21 at halftime, Bradley Central junior Javin Burke led his Bears to a dramatic 37-35 Region 2-6A win over crosstown rival Cleveland, while McCallie senior DeAngelo Hardy made sure his team held off Baylor 35-28 to maintain the state's top spot in Division II-AAA.
The two signal callers finished with almost identical total yards. Burke accounted for 337 yards and five touchdowns and Hardy accumulated 339 yards and threw for three TDs. For those performances, the two quarterbacks were named Times Free Press co-players of the week.
Burke led Bradley Central to scoring drives on all five of its second-half possessions, rallying his team from the 21-point halftime deficit.
"Things didn't go his way in the first half, but he came out and executed almost flawlessly in the second half," Bears coach Damon Floyd said. "It was really the first time he's faced adversity, but he showed great composure, never panicked and just let the game come to him.
"He's a true dual threat. He made good decisions on when to throw it and when to tuck it and run, and even when he scrambles he keeps his eyes downfield looking for a receiver."
Burke ran for 125 yards and a pair of scores and completed 17 of 25 for 212 yards and three TDs for the fourth-ranked Bears. Hardy completed 13 of 18 for 275 yards and also ran for 64 yards for the top-ranked Blue Tornado.
"It was a battle," Hardy said after the game. "I was in constant go mode. I love the way our team fought and kept finding ways to get it done against a great team."
Seven times Hardy converted either a third or fourth down into a first down or touchdown, including a 37-yard scoring toss to Eric Rivers on third-and-27 late in the third quarter and a 19-yard slant pass to Thompson Byrd on fourth-and-8 with less than a minute remaining for a play that allowed McCallie to run out the clock.
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