200th Courtney win has ‘Patriotic’ roadblock

No. 199 earned at Bearden with share of region title

BEARDEN — It was a game worthy of its storied rivalry, and of the playoff implications it carried.

Thursday night, Oct. 27, at BHS’s Bill Young Field, Farragut High School’s football team started slow and fell behind 7-0, roared back to lead 28-7, then held off a furious Bulldogs rally.

The 28-21 Region 2-6A win — the Admirals’ seventh straight — to end the regular season put FHS at 8-2 overall while finishing 4-1 in the region. Bearden fell to 6-4, 3-2.

Farragut, region co-champs but the No. 2 seed due to a tiebreaker, will host Jefferson County (No. 3 seed from Region 1-6A) beginning at 7 p.m., Friday night, Nov. 4, in the first round of Class 6A state playoffs. Admirals skipper Eddie Courtney will be seeking his 200th head coaching victory while facing the Patriots (7-3).

Bearden, No. 3 seed, will travel to Kingsport to play No. 2 1-6A seed Dobyns-Bennett (8-2).

“I think we started off like we have been, played well the first half,” Courtney said. “We lost a little bit of intensity in the second half.“

“We were very inconsistent,” Bulldogs head coach Josh Jones said. “We did some good things and did some things we didn’t need to do. Having pre-snap penalties is totally unacceptable. Gotta do a better job of fixing that.”

It wasn’t a clean game either way. Bearden had 13 penalties for 91 yards and Farragut had four turnovers. In the previous nine games, FHS had six.

The Bulldogs led 7-0 with 4:21 left in the first when quarterback Drew Parrott hit Ethan Ford for a 13-yard score. The Admirals’ offense in the first quarter was virtually nil.

But then came the second.

The Admirals tied it at 7 with 8:55 left in the half when quarterback Luke Johnson scored on a 1-yard keeper.

After Ashton Auker returned a Bearden punt to the Bulldogs 25, Farragut needed but five plays to make it 14-7 when running back Elijah Gibbs took it in from the 2.

Late in the half, Jordan Sheppard intercepted Parrott and returned it to the Dawgs 2. On second down, Gibbs scored his second touchdown from the 3, and FHS led 21-7.

“They weren’t long runs, but they were hard runs,” Gibbs said. “I felt like during this game we really needed a couple of those.”

Johnson (12-of-24 passing for 164 yards, one TD and one interception) hit Auker for an 86-yard bomb with 7:29 left in the third, making it 28-7.

Bearden, however, rallied.

A fumbled punt by Farragut gave the Bulldogs the ball on the Admirals 42 with 6:46 left in the third. Nine plays later, Kai Ironside’s 1-yard run made it 28-14 with 3:09 left. “... That gave them a score and some momentum,” Courtney said.

Another fumble by Farragut put Bearden back in business late in the third. With 9:58 left in the fourth, Parrott went in from the 1, and it was 28-21.

“We kept competing, we were resilient,” Jones said.

“That’s a good Bearden team,” Courtney said. “They took advantage of a couple things. ...”

Bearden had one last chance, taking over with 3:43 left in the game on its own 17. A three-and-out gave the ball back to FHS, which ran out the clock. An 18-yard run by Gibbs, who was held to 48 yards on 22 carries, sustained the drive.

Auker had five catches for 129 yards and a score. “Luke was throwing me great balls and the O-line was doing a great job blocking for him,” Auker said.

Junior linebacker Jack Alley had 13 tackles for the Ads.

“We just made too many mistakes to beat a quality team like Farragut,” Jones said.