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They win again
Nov 21, 2006 12:00 am
With the final seconds of the Pirtle Field clock ticking down Friday night, Friendship Christian coach John McNeal and assistants Duane Lowe and Jody Atwood discussed something never before talked about on that sideline – What time to hold practice on Thanksgiving day.
The Commanders made the holiday a work day with a 54-7 trouncing of previously-unbeaten Tennessee Temple, putting them in the state semifinals for the first time.
It'll be Lions, Cowboys and Commanders next Thursday as Friendship prepares for a visit from Hampton the following night.
"That's the way we want it, practicing on Thanksgiving, that means we're still playing, so we'll be glad to do that," McNeal said after the staff decided on a morning walk through.
It also means the coach won't be in the stores on Black Friday.
"I don't shop anyway," McNeal quipped.
It was a black Friday of a different sort for the Crusaders, whose two-hour bus ride back to Chattanooga was made longer by Jeremy Rickaway's six touchdowns. With freshman John Markham going out late in the first quarter with a season-ending hamstring injury, Rickaway racked up 229 yards on 28 carries. He scored on runs of 1, 52, 16, 3 and 80 yards. It was Friendship's night so much, he picked up a fumble and raced 65 yards for the final score with two minutes left.
Friendship's defense also had seven takeaways, including two third-quarter interceptions by Adam Stephens and a pickoff and fumble recovery by Jordan Carman. Michael Teeter fell on another fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
"Those kids did it, they did the job," McNeal said after his undefeated Commanders claimed their 13th conquest of the season. "Defensively, that's unbelievable, giving up seven points to a team averaging, what, 40?"
The Commanders were the only undefeated 1A team to emerged from the state quarterfinals unscathed. Hampton handed Coalfield its only loss 30-12 to advance to the semis for the second straight season (Trousdale County beat the Bulldogs in upper East Tennessee last year).
On the west side of the bracket, Jo Byrns, which sneaked past Friendship for No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll by one point, had its unbeaten season end at Mt. Pleasant 30-28. The Tigers, coached by former Cumberland Bulldog Walt Smith, will travel to Jackson Christian, which ended Lake County's Cinderella run 26-22.
Next week's winners will advance to the Dec. 1 BlueCross Bowl in Murfreesboro.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.