BY BRIAN HAMILTON
KNOXVILLE – Shawn Gary and Nick Martin answered the call for South-Doyle on Friday night. The Cherokees were coming off back-to-back losses after a 4-0 start, and after a slow start to Friday’s contest, the two leaders were not going to watch their team’s season go down in flames at Fulton by losing three straight.
South-Doyle would score 30 consecutive points in the first half, cruising to a 43-21 win that was never really in doubt in the second half.
The Falcons took an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Raysean Jackson hit Marcellus Jackson for a 6-yard touchdown. Jackson also had two big runs on the drive that helped penetrate Fulton into the red zone.
On the ensuing kickoff, South-Doyle’s Daniel Perez fielded the kick at the 15-yard line and ran it back 85 yards for a score, tying the game at 7-7 with 9:46 left in the first quarter.
The Falcons reclaimed the lead on the ensuing possession, as Jackson went into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown run, putting Fulton ahead 14-7 with 6:42 left in the first.
Later in the first, South-Doyle quarterback Nick Martin found Dalyn Swaggerty for a 50-yard scoring strike. The point-after attempt was no good, however, leaving Fulton clinging to a 14-13 lead after one quarter, which seemed as long as an entire half.
The Cherokees would take their first lead of the game with 9:17 left in the second quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Grant Bush, giving South-Doyle a 16-14 advantage.
Shawn Gary would make it a two-score lead on the Cherokees’ next possession, as he ran for a 9-yard score, making the score 23-14 with just over seven minutes remaining until halftime.
South-Doyle got the ball back midway through the second quarter and scored again on an 83-yard pass from Martin to Almarion Greer. Another touchdown pass by Martin — this time to Gary for 51 yards — gave the Cherokees a comfortable 37-14 lead heading into intermission.
Neither team was able to score in the third period, but Fulton would break the silence early in the fourth, as Jackson found paydirt on a 33-yard touchdown run, pulling the Falcons to within two scores, at 37-21.
Gary would put the nail in the coffin later in the fourth, however, running for a 24-yard score with 8:33 remaining and putting the Cherokees in front 43-21. The Falcons were unable to answer, as South-Doyle went on to a 22-point win.
South-Doyle’s Nick Martin threw for 232 yards and three touchdowns on 11-of-23 passing, while Fulton’s Raysean Jackson was held to just 35 yards and one score on 5-of-14 passing.
The Falcons’ Daveon Shenault ran for a game-high 118 yards on 15 carries, while South-Doyle’s Shawn Gary finished with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Gary also caught another touchdown.
The win tied South-Doyle with Carter for second place in Class 4A Region 2, and behind Anderson County, who is solely in first place after defeating both the Hornets and Cherokees. If things remain constant, South-Doyle and Carter will play for the two-seed and a first round home playoff game on October 22.
The Cherokees (5-2, 2-1 Class 4A Region 2) will host Class 5A Knox Central (4-2, 3-0 Class 5A Region 2) on Thursday Night Rivals this week. Fulton (4-3, 1-2 Class 4A Region 2) will have the week off before traveling to Scott on October 15 for a non-region matchup.