BY BRIAN HAMILTON
KNOXVILLE – South-Doyle ended the season with a statement, defeating Gibbs 45-7 after dropping back-to-back games to rivals Central Knox and Carter.
“We had a great meeting on Monday and talked about how this game was do or die,” South-Doyle head coach Carter Duncan said.”
The Cherokees jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead after one quarter, behind three Shawn Gary touchdown runs of 5, 11, and 2 yards.
Martin faked a handoff to Gary and went into the end zone untouched to put South-Doyle in front 28-0 with 5:16 remaining in the first half.
South-Doyle held Gibbs to just 40 total yards on 24 plays in the first half, while amassing 287 yards on 34 plays offensively.
Gary scored his fourth touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter from 74 yards out, extending the Cherokees’ lead to 35-0.
With the clock ticking continuously now, Gibbs finally got on the board when Bryson Palmer found Bryson Walker for a 43-yard touchdown to cut the Eagles’ deficit to 35-7.
The Cherokees would take a 45-7 lead with 9:54 left in the game, as Brandon Smith went into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run.
The clock went back to running continuously after the score and that was the final tally, as South-Doyle wrapped up a playoff spot, although several weeks ago, it was not expected that the Cherokees would finish with the fourth seed in Region 2.
“I think we have the best offensive line around,” Duncan said. “I see them practice every day. We’ve got a quarterback who can get it out and we’ve got a stud in there at tailback.”
Gary finished the game with 217 yard and four touchdowns on 21 carries to lead South-Doyle.
The Cherokees (6-4, 3-2 Class 4A Region 2) will have the daunting task of traveling to Greeneville to face the top-ranked Greene Devils (10-0) in the first round.
The loss ended Gibbs’ season, as a win would have put Eagles (4-6, 1-4) in the playoffs as the 4-seed.
“We had a tough season,” Gibbs head coach Brad Turner said. “We lost two games by three (points), one by six and one game by seven. We’ve gotta learn how to finish.”