DECATUR, Tenn. — Maybe it was the fact that Meigs County running back Will Meadows was facing another Tennessee Titans Mr. Football finalist.
Maybe it was the fact that the Tigers had heard that their opponent in the TSSAA Class 2A state quarterfinals, South Greene, had made proclamations that the Rebels would be able to come to Decatur and score at will against a defense that struggled last week.
Either way, the home team was ready to play from the start of Friday night's matchup of 12-0 teams, with Meigs County winning 42-14 to remain unbeaten, end the Rebels' season and advance to next week's semifinals. The Tigers will visit Trousdale County, which improved to 11-2 with Friday's 21-13 win against Watertown.
As for Meigs' level of preparation for the Rebels, it was evident on the game's second play from scrimmage, when Cameron Huckabey sliced through the visitors' offensive line to tackle South Greene's Luke Myers for a loss. It showed again on Meigs' first possession, when offensive lineman Hunter Brown pancaked a defender 20 yards downfield.
And it was made completely clear by the 29-0 halftime score, highlighted by four of Meadows' six touchdowns.
"We wanted to come out early and make a statement," Meigs coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "There had been a lot of talking going on this week. They said nobody could stop them but themselves, so we had to make a statement."
Meadows rushed for 215 yards on just 14 carries, and he caught a 40-yard pass from quarterback Logan Carroll to set up another score.
"You know, the offensive line did a really good job. The home crowd, that always helps," Meadows said. "My freshman year, our seniors got beat here in their last home game, and I didn't want it to end like that."
It also gave him a chance to win the battle against fellow Mr. Football finalist Myers, who completed 28 of 39 passes and two touchdowns but threw for just 240 yards and was intercepted twice. Myers also rushed for 77 yards, but two other carries by South Greene running backs went for negative yards as the Rebels finished with 73 yards on the ground as a team.
Meigs rushed for 329 yards, with Carroll contributing 92 to help the Tigers come within a win of returning to the state title game. Meigs lost 27-16 to Peabody in last year's Class 2A BlueCross Bowl, and a victory next week would secure a spot in the Dec. 3 championship matchup at Tennessee Tech. Peabody (13-0) hosts Waverly (10-2) in the other semifinal.
The Tigers haven't lost since last December, and now South Greene is on the string of postseason conquests this fall.
"We both had pretty good skill people, so we said we had to win the game up front," Fitzgerald said. "That's where we won the game in the first half; our offensive line took over, and our defensive line played well."