SHANE SHOEMAKER – Sports Writer
The Whitwell Tigers continued their winning ways on Friday night, securing a 15-12 victory against the Greenback Cherokees to give them a 2-0 record.
The game marked the Tigers first encounter with the Cherokees since their Class 1A playoff semifinals showdown in 2018 that eventually saw the Tigers clinch their one and only state championship.
On a sweltering and humid night in the valley, the two teams amassed a total of 429 yards and scored 27 points combined.
The Tigers would rely on their ground game most of the night, rushing for 172 yards on 41 attempts, with Bennett McDougal accounting for most of that with 103 yards.
With not even four minutes into the frame, McDougal scored on a 19-yard run, making it 7-0. This would give the Tigers an early lead to which they never relinquished.
It would take the Cherokees most of the first quarter remaining to answer the Tigers back.
With 1:57 remaining, Greenback quarterback Madden McNeil made a one-yard run for the last score of the first quarter and the only one for the Cherokees in the first half. Greenback’s kicker would miss the point after, though, making it 7-6 Tigers.
The second quarter was all about both team’s defenses, which were stout all night. That was until the Tigers scored off a 32-yard pass from junior quarterback, Brandon Easterly, to McDougal. Instead of going for the extra point, the Tigers decided to go for two, which they converted successfully to give them a 15-6 lead at the half.
That would be the last time the Tigers would score for the rest of the game.
Greenback wasn’t done, however. Mid-way through the third, the Cherokees would use some of their 30 passing attempts on the night to make their way down the field where they would complete a one-yard touchdown pass. They would miss the extra point again similar to the first quarter, making the score 15-12.
Much like it was in the second quarter, the fourth was a similar defensive battle, except this time neither team scored. Whitwell was able to hold onto their three-point lead to secure the game, limiting the Cherokees to just 200 yards of total offense for the night.
Coming out of Friday night’s game, the Tigers are still looking to clean some things up after committing three more turnovers to the Cherokees one. Last week, the Tigers had four.
This Friday, the Tigers will be home once again, when they face the Jo Byrns Red Devils, who are 1-1 after beating Ballard Memorial 51-7 last week.