It seemed as though Soddy-Daisy and Rhea County would light up the scoreboard early in their Region 4-5A football matchup, but a sure shootout turned into a defensive showcase Friday night at Bill Horton Field.
Visiting Soddy-Daisy earned the hard-fought 14-7 win to claim bragging rights in the rivalry for a second straight year.
It was Rhea County (6-2, 2-1) that scored first when a fourth-down penalty on Soddy-Daisy (5-3, 2-0) gave the Eagles new life, but after Jackson Langley's 3-yard score, the Trojans buckled down.
"We had that penalty on the first drive, and the seniors got in everyone's face and did what we had to do to get going," Soddy-Daisy standout Hayden Maynor said. "We kind of took over."
Maynor was a stalwart on both the offense and defense. He scored on an 8-yard rush with 2:45 left in the second quarter to make it 7-6. It was one of his 19 carries for 170 yards.
His success on the ground allowed Soddy-Daisy to maintain possession for long spurts, as Rhea County's devastating wing-T offense is known to do.
"We know when we play these guys possessions are going to come at a premium, so when you have the ball you have to be efficient," Trojans coach Justin Barnes said. "With our run game, we were able to open up some run-pass options in the second half and get the passing game going."
Isaac Barnes took advantage of the offensive mix and hit Kesean Eubanks for a 40-yard score in the third quarter. A 2-point pass from Barnes to Will Ackerman made it a seven-point game.
Rhea County moved the ball well at times, with three rushers eclipsing 70 yards, but struggled to reach the end zone. The seven-point performance followed last week's shutout loss, a departure from the Eagles' first six contests.
"We've struggled to score the last two weeks," coach Mark Pemberton said. "We scored 37 1/2 points per game in the games before the last two, and I take the blame for that. I've got to coach better.
"Our defense played well enough to win tonight. Allowing 14 points, you ought to win."
Rhea County had a chance to score on first-and-goal at the 7-yard line with less than two minutes to play, but Soddy-Daisy's defense stood up one last time and forced a turnover on downs.
Contact Idris Garcia at email@example.com.