Raiders of the lost cause

Admirals dominate region foe Cleveland to begin three-game homestand

Any football coach would have a tough decision to make if he had to choose between an efficient offense or a stout defense.

Friday night, Sept. 16, at home against Cleveland on Bill Clabo Field, Farragut head coach Eddie Courtney didn’t have to make that choice: he got both.

The Admirals used big plays on both sides of the ball to jump to a quick 14-0 lead, and then cruised to a 42-13 win versus the Blue Raiders. The Region 2-6A win gave FHS a 1-1 Region record, 3-2 overall.

Courtney was asked after the game whether he was more pleased with his offense or defense. His answer was predictable.

“Both of ‘em,” he said. “I thought we built on some things we did last week (win versus Oak Ridge). I told ‘em that was one game and we gotta keep building on it.”

Build on it the Admirals did, and they did so on the game’s second play from scrimmage. On second-and -eight from the FHS 29, quarterback Luke Johnson found Ashton Auker wide open over the middle. The 71-yard touchdown pass put Farragut up 7-0 65 seconds into the game.

It was 14-0 fewer than five minutes later when, on first and 10 from CHS’s 24, Johnson scrambled left then threw over the middle to Landon Collins for the touchdown.

For the game, Johnson’s efficiency was eye-popping: 19 completions on 22 attempts for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Auker caught nine of his passes for 159 yards and two scores.

“Luke threw a great ball; O-line, great protection,” Auker said of the first score. “Every week we have a good opportunity to have a great passing game.”

After Raiders’ quarterback Drew Lambert scored on a 1-yard keeper to make it 14-6, FHS answered right back to make it 21-6 at half, when Johnson capped a 12-play, 82-yard drive by connecting with Auker for a 12-yard touchdown pass on first-and-goal.

“They did a lot of press coverage and our receivers got off the press and got open down the field and made some plays,” Courtney said. “We had to come out in the first half and establish some things.”

A crucial defensive play by the Admirals in the third quarter likely changed the tenor of the game. Down 21-6, Cleveland went for it on fourth-and-two on the Admirals 34. Lambert was sacked, and the ball went over to Farragut with 5:24 left in the third.

Two plays later, Johnson connected with Landis Davila for a 53-yard touchdown, and the score was 28-6. The game was long over.

“Our offensive line did a good job of protection and gave Luke and (back-up quarterback) Barrett Smith a lot of protection,” Courtney said. “The defense stepped up on third downs and fourth downs.”

Mathew Purvis and Jack Alley each had 10 tackles for the Admirals, seven solo for Purvis, five for Alley. Five of senior free safety Jackson Fisher’s six tackles were solo.

“Last year we lost to them in a really close game,” Fisher said. “We wanted to show them what we could do.”

Running back Elijah Gibbs’s 25-yard run made it 35-6 early in the fourth. Smith completed FHS’s scoring when he connected with Hank Devault on a quick strike 47-yard touchdown over the middle.

Smith was 3-of-4 passing for 65 yards and the touchdown. “When we’re up like that (35-13), coach can put me in,” Smith said. “Luke and I are brothers out there.”

Farragut will host South-Doyle (2-3) on FHS Homecoming Night starting at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Reveiz/