KNOXVILLE — First impressions were deceiving: Goodpasture Christian actually was held three-and-out and punted on its first possession against undefeated Christian Academy of Knoxville.
The rest of the evening, however, would be total domination for the Cougars’ offense, led in the first half by the big-play passing of quarterback Cooper Pennington, and in the second half by darting runs from Brendan Jones.
Goodpasture (9-2) scored nine touchdowns — and if not for the hustle of CAK junior defensive back Grant Sterchi to strip a wide open Cougars receiver of the football near the goal line and recover it in the end zone, it would have been 10 — ending the Warriors’ season (11-1) 61-43 in the Division II-AA playoff quarterfinals Friday night, Nov. 13, at Christian Academy.
As for the issues with stopping the Cougars’ passing game, CAK head coach Travis Mozingo cited “miscommunication in the secondary ... we had some breakdowns there.”
As for Jones’ running, “We kind of got pushed around a little bit,” he added.
Another first impression was deceiving, as CAK standout running back J.D. Dunn got off to a slow start.
But this talented junior heated up in a huge way, highlighting the Warriors offense with 304 yards rushing on 34 carries and touchdown runs of 9, 5, 30, 46 and 10 yards.
“He’s so steady, he might get 6 or he might get 60 (yards),” Mozingo said of Dunn. “It’s been fun to watch him play this year.”
For the season, 12 games, this Division II-AA Mr. Football semifinalist rushed for 2,091 yards on 274 carries, scoring 25 touchdowns.
In addition to Sterchi’s 10 catches for 122 receiving yards, which included a 38-yard touchdown reception, the junior had a interception to go with the forced fumble.
Senior quarterback Ryan Degges completed 20 of 30 passes for 226 yards with one TD and three interceptions.
Ross Badgett, CAK senior kicker, nailed a 32-yard field goal and four extra points.
Overall, “I’m frustrated for the kids, but they battled back,” Mozingo said.