CHATSWORTH - Last Friday night, the Murray County Indians and North Murray Mountaineers came together at Murray Field in Chatsworth, swarmed by fans from both ends of the county, for the fourth time since North Murray’s inception. It being a cross-county rival game of sorts, the overflowing crowd was expected, but the loss of esteemed coach Bill Napier Tuesday brought more people together than your average high school football game usually would. Coach Napier was honored pre-game and both teams wore “Coach Nape” stickers on their helmets along with his name painted in the end zones.
Two seasons ago the Mountaineers barely pulled off a win against the Indians, winning 14-13, but last year they won more definitively, 37-18, under Head Coach Preston Poag, Sr. in his first season at the helm. Friday night was a bit more of the same, except even more convincing. The Mountaineers (3-3, 1-1 Region 6AAA) completely shut down the Indians offense all night, holding them, and standout running back Tucker Gregg, to just 84 yards rushing and 130 yards of total offense. The Mountaineer defense also forced four fumbles and recovered two, one of those returned 42 yards for a touchdown by lineman Nick Hagin in the third quarter as North Murray easily picked up the win in both teams first sub-region game of the season, 41-0.
The Indians (2-4, 0-1 Region 6AAA) seemed to start off the tilt on a good note as they intercepted Preston Poag, Jr. on North Murray’s first set of downs, but they never could get anything going on the offensive side of the ball. On the contrary, the Mountaineers, after that first turnover, found their feet and scored at will. North Murray’s first score of the night was a big one, a 78-yard sprint down the sideline by Preston Buck after he caught a short pass from Poag, Jr and separated from all Indian defenders. That was the beginning of the end for the Indians. “We really struggled trying to get anything going,” Murray County Head Coach Chad Brewer said. “We gave up big plays for points on defense. We just couldn’t get anything going. We still have a chance to have a winning season and to make the playoffs and all of our focus now is on Ringgold.”
The Mountaineers scored 21 unanswered points in the first half. Poag, Jr. ran one in from 15 yards out for the second score of the evening and then threw a 56-yard touchdown to Will Campbell with a minute left in the second quarter. Poag, Jr. completed 11-of-15 passes for 273 yards and ran for another 76 yards on the ground while accounting for four total touchdowns. Ladd McConkey was on the receiving end of Poag, Jr’s third passing touchdown in the third quarter when he took a short pass 61 yards into the end zone to put the Mountaineers up 27-0. Hagin’s fumble recovery and return put North Murray up 34-0 and D’Ante Tidwell topped off the fourth quarter with a 3-yard touchdown of his own. Campbell led all receivers with five receptions for 74 yards while senior wideout Connor Rice hauled in three for 58 yards. Tidwell finished with 68 yards rushing and the score and seems to be playing a more pivotal role in the rushing attack for the Mountaineers.
“We played a complete game Friday. I thought we won all three phases of the game,” North Murray Head Coach Preston Poag said. “On offense we played our best game of the year and I was very proud of our defense for getting the shutout. This was a huge game for us because it was our first sub-region game but we’ll be focusing on Ringgold for the next two weeks.”
The Indians travel to Ringgold this Friday to take on the Tigers and look to bounce back after their loss to North Murray. Kick-off is set for 7:30pm. The Mountaineers have the week off this week but will battle Ringgold October 13th.