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Dec 04, 2006 12:00 am
MURFREESBORO — A football season filled with celebration ended in tears Friday night as Friendship Christian lost 19-13 to Jackson Christian in the BlueCross Bowl at Middle Tennessee State's Floyd Stadium.
The Commanders entered the field under bright, sunny skies with hopes of winning the school's first TSSAA state championship. But by the time the Eagles tied a championship-game record with six interceptions, darkness had descended and Friendship's best-ever football season ended 14-1.
"I'm proud of the kids," Commander coach John McNeal said while walking off the synthetic surface. "There's nothing I can say to these guys that can change any feeling they have, and I don't want to. I do want them to have their heads up and to be proud of what they have done this year. They've accomplished a lot.
"The ultimate goal is to win it all. But only one team does that. Two came out here and battled tonight. The better team won."
The teams played through a scoreless first half before Jackson Christian scored two quick touchdowns early in the third quarter, one coming Greg Wood's 45-yard interception return.
Friendship fought back to within six points on Jon Miller's 4-yard touchdown toss to Adam Stephens with just over four minutes to play.
The Commanders got the ball back with 2:17 left. But Trey Mangrum's second interception of the game sealed the championship for the Eagles and gave them a share of the championship game record with six pickoffs.
Rashad Rayner had three of the interceptions to earn Defensive Most Valuable Player honors. Quarterback Clay Fowler, who eluded Friendship's swarming defense enough to complete 14 of 27 passes for 176 yards (including a 15-yard touchdown to Tanner Perkins to break the scoreless duel), was named Offensive MVP as the Eagles completed a 12-3 season.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.