Loudon High School’s football team got a big region win Friday night away to McMinn Central High School to blow the playoff race wide open in Region 3-3A.
Coming into the game, the Redskins sat on a 1-2 region record, compared to 3-0 for their hosts, but an explosive second half gave them a 29-0 win. With McMinn Central still to play region-leading Sweetwater, Loudon could now finish as high as second in the region despite a slow start to the year.
“It was a huge boost for our guys,” Jeff Harig, LHS head football coach, said. “For once, we kind of felt we played the way we were capable. And so it’s been kind of a frustrating start to our year, but we still have a lot to play for. We can still be a host for the playoffs.”
After rotating quarterbacks for much of the season but generally preferring junior Will Ervin in the role, Harig gave sophomore Bronson Scrivner the nod this time around, and he did not disappoint. Though the Redskins fell short of getting on the board in the first half, a resolute defensive performance ensured the teams remained level at 0-0 going into the break.
After a few halftime tweaks, Loudon came back out with renewed purpose and raced into a convincing lead, scoring on every offensive possession in the second half.
“It was kind of a tale of two halves for us offensively,” Harig said. “We had a lot of self-inflicted wounds with penalties and just a general lack of execution when we felt like we were pretty close to putting a lot of good things together. Our defense played lights out and really, really got after McMinn Central, denied big plays, was very physical, ran hard, ran fast to the football, and we felt like we had a pretty good idea of who McMinn Central was from a talent and scheme standpoint. And so we felt like we had a good plan on both sides of the ball, made small adjustments offensively in the second half and it really springboarded us to a really good overall performance offensively and defensively.”
Loudon demonstrated their second-half intent from the off, as junior running back Gavin Divine rushed 42 yards on the first snap to put his team in the redzone. A Scrivner pass and two more Divine carries got the Redskins to the 7-yard line, from where Scrivner rushed in for the opening score. A bad snap resulted in a blocked extra point, however, giving the team only a six-point lead with 9:56 to go in the third quarter.
Loudon then gifted Central 15 yards and a first down on the hosts’ first play after the restart, but a penalty and two tackles-for-loss from junior linebacker Blaine Houston and senior defensive end Kwynton Chenault forced a punt without another first down. Two plays later, Scrivner threw for 56 yards to senior wide receiver Adam Hawkins to put the team up 13-0 with seven minutes to go.
“Bronson really came in and gave us a spark, especially in the second half,” Harig said. “And I thought the guys kind of rallied around him a little bit and that kind of gave us a new identity offensively.”
Scrivner was not the only one to impress, as Loudon’s defensive players continued to dominate their opponents. Chenault got a second tackle-for-loss, and Central rushed only two yards on the possession’s two other plays before punting once more.
“(Our defense) was huge,” Harig said. “We had nine negative plays, we had five sacks on the quarterback. We really made them one dimensional. … So took them really out of their character and our guys really played well on defense.”
Loudon then put together their longest drive of the game to get to Central’s 9-yard line as they entered the final quarter, but could not get the touchdown. At fourth-and-goal still on the 9, the Redskins resorted to a 26-yard field goal by senior kicker Julio Flores with 11:11 left in the game.
The Redskins held Central to another three-and-out thanks to Chenault’s third tackle-for-loss of the half and scored yet again three plays after the punt, Divine getting in on the act with a 23-yard touchdown. Flores missed the extra point, but the Redskins were cruising at 22-0.
The final touchdown came just over 20 seconds from time and started after senior defensive back Braeden Fray intercepted a pass on Loudon’s 30-yard line and returned it for 16 yards. From their own 46, the Redskins relied almost exclusively on senior running back Keefer Tatman, who carried a total of 50 yards over seven plays leading to a seven-yard rushing score. Flores converted the extra point to make it 29-0 as Loudon got their first shutout win since doing so against the same opponent in 2020.
The result, coupled with Signal Mountain High School’s win over Roane County High School in Kingston, means all six region teams still have a shot at the playoffs going into the final week. In case of identical region records, head-to-head is the first tiebreaker.
For Loudon, this means that a win over Kingston in Week 11, coupled with a McMinn Central loss to Sweetwater, would give them the No. 2 seed. But a loss on the final day could still end their season should Brainerd High School defeat Signal Mountain.
Before they can get to that crucial encounter, the Redskins will have a few days off to enjoy their bye week. Players will return to practice Thursday in preparation for their final non-region matchup Oct. 21 against McMinn County High School, before taking on Kingston Oct. 28. Both games will be at home, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.