DECATUR, Tenn. — After a 21-day layoff from competition, Meigs County football coach Jason Fitzgerald admitted before Friday's home opener that he worried about how long it might take to knock off the rust.
Consider Class 2A's top-ranked Tigers corrosion free and polished after an impressive 40-6 nonregion win over previously unbeaten Signal Mountain.
"We got stopped on our first couple of series, but some of that was because of mistakes we made," said Fitzgerald, whose team has played for a state title the past two seasons. "I thought our offensive line started blocking better as the game went, and we were physical and played hard.
"We know this team isn't going to be given anything because of what we've done in the past. We talk about just play to the standard we've set, and I thought we did that tonight. We've got to clean up some things, but it was just good to get to play again."
It did take two series before the offense found its footing, but a blocked punt handed Meigs County a short field late in the first quarter as all three phases factored into the night's scoring. The Tigers turned that special teams spark into a 4-yard touchdown by Logan Carroll, the first of three first-half scoring runs for the senior quarterback.
Carroll added a 13-yard touchdown toss to all-state receiver Cam Huckabey in the fourth quarter and finished the night with 122 rushing yards and 104 passing yards against an opponent that had allowed an average of 9.7 points per game through the first three weeks.
"The first couple of series, they stonewalled us," said Carroll, whose team had not played since a 30-point win at Sweetwater in the opener, having picked up a COVID-19 forfeit win last week after an early open date. "We've been out a couple of weeks, so we were a little rusty. Our coaching staff did a good job of making adjustments, and our line figured out what they were doing and opened up some holes to run through.
"It's insane how good Cam Huckabey is. There was a play where I just ran around, and I knew he was there somewhere and he came down with it. I know that's bad to say as a quarterback, but I trust him, so I just threw it toward him and let him make a play."
The Tigers (3-0) followed their first short score with a 10-play, 79-yard drive to open the second quarter, capped by Carroll's 10-yard touchdown run. An interception gave the ball back to Meigs near midfield, and six snaps later Carroll scored again on another 10-yard keeper.
The Tigers also got short scoring runs from Justin Key and Luke Pendergrass to finish the game with 272 rushing yards, averaging 6.3 per carry. They rolled up 241 of their 376 total yards in the first half, and Meigs County's defense limited the Eagles to 128 total yards and forced two turnovers.
Signal Mountain (3-1) was without senior quarterback Duncan Cannon, who had been solid all season but was unable to play because of a shoulder injury. In his absence, freshman Cash Keene threw for 72 yards in his debut and hit Blake Wolfard on the final snap of the game for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
"This feels great," Carroll said. "We know tomorrow's not always promised. Our team has done a really good job staying socially distanced and doing what we needed to do to be able to play."