By Mark Nagi
If you like offensive football, Bill Clabo Field was the place to be last Friday night.
The West Rebels and Farragut Admirals scored early and often. In the end, the Rebels did just enough to outscore the Admirals 41-38.
“Both defenses are tough, but you have to do what you have to do to win,” said West quarterback Carson Jessie.
The game got off to a positive start for Farragut. Quarterback Dawson Moore was under pressure yet heaved the football downfield to a spot where Trace Corum was in single coverage. Corum jumped in the air and brought it down for a 31-yard gain at the Rebels 36-yard line.
The 10-play drive culminated with a 43-yard field goal by Reese Keeney, and Farragut was on top 3-0.
It didn’t take long for West (2-0) to answer. Jessie threw a 65-yard pass to Cayden Latham, which was followed by a 29-yard touchdown run by Tre’von Barfield. That put West ahead 7-3.
Then it was the Ads turn to get in the end zone with a 5 play, 59-yard drive. They moved 23 yards on 4 carries from Schumann Xie. After that, Moore went deep to Landis Davila, who juggled the football multiple times before securing it while falling over the goal line. That 36-yard score gave Farragut a 10-7 lead.
Back and forth the scoreboard would go. A 28-yard run by Barfield was followed up by a 32-yard pitch and catch from Jessie to Brayden Latham. Runs of 6, 11 and 3 yards by Brayden Latham gave West the lead back, 14-10 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
It stayed that way until a wild final two minutes of the half. First, Farragut faced 4th and short from their own 37. They took a chance, and it didn’t pay off. Passing up a punt, the give was to Elijah Gibbs, who was swarmed by the West defense for a loss of two yards and a turnover on downs.
A few plays later, Jessie hit Cayden Latham for an 18-yard touchdown, putting West on top 21-10 with only 45 seconds left in the half.
The Admirals got the ball back, and Moore threw it deep to Corum, who was inexplicably wide open in West territory. He made the catch and sprinted the rest of the 80 yards for a touchdown.
It was 21-17 West at intermission.
The first play from scrimmage in the second half was a West fumble, recovered by Farragut’s Garrett Vanacker at the Rebels 18. The Ads turned that gift into points when Gibbs ran it in from 4 yards away. Farragut was ahead 24-21.
But West wasn’t deterred. An 80-yard drive finished with John Carlevato taking the snap and powering his way in for a 4-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked, and West led 27-24 with 7:07 to go in the third quarter.
Farragut (0-2) then went on a 15 play, 79-yard drive that ate up nearly six minutes of the clock. The big play was a Moore to Gibbs pass on 3rd and 10 in which Gibbs broken multiple tackles for a 26-yard gain. A Xie 15-yard scamper put the Ads back on top 31-27.
In the 4th quarter, Brayden Latham dove in from the 2, and it was now 34-31 West with 8:48 to go.
The big plays kept coming. Moore threw to a streaking Corum near midfield. Corum reached behind him a bit to collect the football, which was thrown between two defenders. Corum galloped 73 yards for a touchdown, and it was 38-34 Admirals.
A 43-yard touchdown run by Barfield swung the momentum back to West, as they went ahead 41-38 with 5:48 to go.
Farragut drove to the West 26, but with under a minute to go, Moore’s pass sailed over the head of his intended receiver on 4th and 3. Still, Moore had a monster night with 382 yards passing and three touchdowns.
“He’s a senior quarterback that grew up a lot last year,” said Farragut head coach Eddie Courtney. “He took some hits, twice got his helmet knocked off twice but he bounced back and got back in there.”
A 52-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game was blocked, and West hung on for the win.
“Our goal is state. That’s the only goal,” said Jessie, who threw for 206 yards and a touchdown. “We take it week by week and do the best we can.”
Things get no easier for Farragut next week when they open Region play at home against Maryville. West opens their Region schedule at home against Halls.