By Steve Williams
Home sweet home never felt so good.
After losing three tough road games, Fulton made its 2020 debut at the friendly confines of Bob Black Field Friday night and got rid of some frustration with a 37-7 thumping of rival Austin-East.
The Falcons (1-3) will host Karns this Friday and then have a week off before continuing their five-game homestand against mighty Maryville.
Needless to say, Fulton still has plenty of work to do if it wants to avoid having back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the mid-1990s.
“A win in this game was important to us,” said Coach Rob Black. “We really needed one. I thought our guys were up for it. They had a good week of preparation.
“This is a rivalry game and means so much to our community because we are so close.”
Fulton dominated the first half but only had a 14-0 lead to show for it. Electrifying Marcellus Jackson quickly changed that by returning the second half kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and giving the Falcons some extra breathing room.
Fulton stretched its lead to 34-0 before the Roadrunners got on the scoreboard on the last play of the third quarter.
Austin-East, which blasted Fulton 70-36 last year, is now 0-4 and struggling under first-year head coach Antonio Mays.
“I’ve got to do a better job at organizing,” said Mays after the game. “That’s not on the kids. That’s on me.
“They (Fulton) played hard. I felt our running backs ran hard. I felt they fought to the end.
“This is a community game and right now I let our community down.”
Due to mistakes and poor punting, the entire first quarter was played inside A-E’s 30-yard line.
Quarterback Tommy Sweat easily scored on a 1-yard keeper around right end with 7:21 on the clock. Joseph Mojica added the PAT kick.
The Falcons used some trickery to tally on the first play of the second quarter. Sweat threw a backward pass to halfback Raysean Jackson, who passed to Jayden Jenkins for a 14-yard scoring play.
Austin-East moved the chains for the first time when Markeyis Billingsley gained 14 yards around left end. But A-E would end up punting after a six-yard tackle for loss by senior linebacker CJ Roach.
The Roadrunners threatened late in the quarter, getting a 12-yard run by Jon Jon Mathis to the Fulton 25. A fourth down pass, however, was intercepted by Raysean Jackson at the 12 as the half ended.
After Marcellus’ play of the game to start the second half, Sweat hit Daveon Shenault with a 25-yard pass to set up Jerrison Gibson’s 2-yard TD run at 9:14 and it was 27-0.
Catches by Adrian Roberson and De’Rondre Peebles moved the Falcons to the A-E 5 late in the third quarter and Mac McCovery took it in from there. Mojica’s kick made it 34-0.
The Roadrunners got on the scoreboard on the last play of the third quarter when Keon Smith spun loose from defenders and raced 81 yards to paydirt. Ezzulddin Fawwaz kicked the PAT.
Fulton put together a 12-play, 61-yard drive that culminated with Mojica’s 30-yard FG with 5:18 to go.
The Vaughn brothers – Keenan and Seth – made some big defensive plays in the game for the Falcons. Keenan’s night included a nine-yard sack and a five-yard tackle for loss. Seth also had a five yard TFL.
Daveon Shenault had a key interception after A-E recovered an onside kick after its lone score.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Roadrunners, who host Greeneville this week.