KNOXVILLE — Cedar Bluff area rivals Webb School of Knoxville and Christian Academy of Knoxville renewed acquaintances on the gridiron Friday night, Sept. 17, and it was a late play sealing victory for the Spartans.
Trailing by two scores heading into the fourth quarter, Webb stepped up on defense and notched a 24-23 Division II-AA East Region win versus the Warriors in the latest chapter of the Dutchtown Showdown before a packed and spirited house in Warrior Stadium.
And as is often the case, the game went down to the final moments and on a night featuring multiple big plays, it was Webb sophomore linebacker Cooper Cameron that made the biggest play of the night as he intercepted a pass from CAK quarterback Luke Simpson and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown with 2 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the contest.
It was the biggest play of the season for Cameron and Webb, which overcame a 23-12 deficit in the contest.
The Warriors (2-2 overall, 1-1 in Division II-AA East Region) had won the last two games in the West Knoxville rivalry, and they looked to be poised for a third consecutive victory against the Spartans (3-1, 2-0).
Webb, which was clinging to a slim 12-10 lead at halftime, endured a disastrous third quarter as quarterback Charlie Robinson was intercepted four times in the frame. CAK also executed an onside kick to open the third quarter.
The Warriors’ Chi McNeil-Harrison picked off Robinson three times in the third quarter. His first came on the Spartans’ first offensive play of the second half. Grant Sterchi, who had a game-winning touchdown on an interception in the annual meeting last year, also picked off a pass in this one.
The Warriors scored 13 points off Webb’s miscues. But the Spartans didn’t fold. They couldn’t, according to Cameron.
“Just because a few things go bad in one quarter doesn’t mean the game is over,” he said. “There’s four quarters for a reason.”
Webb head coach David Meske credited his defense for the victory.
“The credit for this goes to the defensive side of the ball,” Meske said. “Our defense played well.
“CAK is a good team, OK. They won the region last year. It feels good to get a win. But this one is big for the kids because we don’t get to play a lot of (region) teams in Knoxville.”
The Warriors started fast in this game, scoring on their first possession on J.D. Dunn Jr.’s 5-yard run with 8:31 remaining in the first quarter. Jack Britton added the extra point to make it 7-0.
The Spartans answered five minutes later as Robinson connected with Markeis Barrett on a 12-yard scoring strike. Webb, however, wasn’t able to tie the game as CAK’s Maddox Mozingo blocked Otto Niendorff’s point-after attempt.
Britton kicked a 30-yard field goal late in the frame to make it 10-6.
Webb rallied to take a 12-10 lead at halftime when Robinson threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ford Wagner in the waning moments of the first half.
In the third quarter, Dunn, who had 190 rushing yards, and Dario Love had rushing touchdowns to give the Warriors a 23-12 lead.
The Spartans pulled to within 24-18 with 4:20 left to play on a 1-yard TD plunge by Garrett Carnathan, setting the stage for Cameron’s late game heroics.
CAK had a chance to win but failed to convert a fourth-down play a short time later.
Chattanooga Christian (2-3, 1-1) comes to CAK this week.
“We have a lot of games left and we have a lot of region games left,” Sterchi said. “This one’s over. We just have to learn from it.”
“We have to get these kids to bounce back,” CAK head coach Travis Mozingo said.