CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The shape of a football suggests it is never going to bounce in any particular direction every single time.
But coach Bo Cagle and McMinn County seemed to get all of the bounces in the second half Friday night, breaking a 14-all tie with 28 straight points in a 42-21 win over Walker Valley.
It wasn't in the most traditional of fashions — the Cherokees fumbled a snap that was kicked into the end zone and recovered by offensive lineman Bryse Snyder, for instance — but they played well enough to win their fourth consecutive game and improve to 5-3, including 2-1 in Region 4-5A.
The Cherokees had just 60 yards of total offense in the third quarter, but they scored on the Snyder touchdown, a Spencer Sullins field goal and a Connor Bates safety. They added another safety early in the fourth when Jaryd Gable blocked a punt through the back of the end zone.
"We preached all week that it was going to be all about physicality," Gable said. "That was the only way we were going to win this game. We made a couple of adjustments at halftime as far as their passing attack, and we just had to execute."
The Mustangs (4-4, 1-2) finished with just 4 yards of offense in the second half after having 148 in the first. They had fallen behind 14-0 despite forcing a pair of McMinn turnovers early, but finally cashed in with a drive that ended in a Ryan Lay touchdown plunge. A fumble on the ensuing kickoff was recovered by the Mustangs and led to a Lay-to-Kade Tjaarda 25-yard score, but the Cherokees took over from there.
"We're going to play hard. The name of the game is to be physical," Cagle said. "We had to be a physical football team to beat this bunch. I thought Walker Valley played well, especially holding us in the first half, but it's McMinn County football, and that's the way we have to play to give ourselves a chance to win."
McMinn running back Cody Thompson had 146 yards and a pair of scores, while quarterback Jayden Miller added 97 as the Cherokees ran for 271.