BLEDSOE COUNTY-With a state playoff
birth in sight, the Sweetwater Wildcats used opportunistic defense
and the crunching running of senior running back Eli Arwood to grind
up the Bledsoe County Warriors 28-0 in Pikeville Friday night.
Arwood, behind solid blocking, rushed
for 159 yards on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns for the
Wildcats. The win put the Wildcats at 6-3 on the year, their first
winning season since 2006, and set up a battle for second place in
the district with cross-county rival Sequoyah Friday night.
The Wildcats lost at home to Bledsoe
County last year, but showed they were not about to fall victim to
the Warriors again. Sweetwater forced four turnovers to help seal the
Sweetwater head coach Craig Moser had
vowed to get Arwood the ball 30 times in the game and that strategy
paid off when the hard-nosed running back scored on a 28-yard
touchdown run halfway through second quarter to put the Wildcats up,
At times, Bledsoe County moved the
ball, but each time a turnover cost the Warriors their chance to get
back in the game.
After a Bledsoe County fumble,
Sweetwater marched 65 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 5-yard
Arwood run to go up 14-0 at halftime.
The third quarter was scoreless,
however, Sweetwater was on the march early in the fourth quarter and
capped off another 65-yard drive when Arwood scored on a 4-yard run
to put the Wildcats up by three touchdowns.
Arwood got most of the carries, but
Hunter Humphreys added an 11-yard touchdown run late in the fourth
quarter to give the Wildcats their final 28-point margin after
another successful extra point attempt.
Coach Moser praised his team's
tenacious effort and nothing signified that more than a play late in
the game. With the Wildcats up 28-0, the Warriors were ready to avoid
a shutout with just over a minute left in the game.
The Warriors seemed destined to turn a
short toss into a 76-yard touchdown pass, but Elijah Blomstrom
tackled a Bledsoe County runner from behind near the goal line,
stripping the ball, which was recovered by defensive back Nick
Plenty of Wildcats defenders played
well on the night, including Zach Neil, who picked off a pass and had
a sack. Though Sweetwater did most of is offensive damage on the
ground against the Warriors, Moser said Andrew Barr managed the game
well from his quarterback position.
The stage is now set for the regular
season finale when Sweetwater will travel across the ridge to play
the 6-3 Sequoyah Chiefs, who are coming off a road loss at Loudon.
The winner of the grudge match will not only get bragging rights to
being the best high school football team in the county, but will also
secure an automatic playoff birth. The loser would likely need some
help to get in the playoffs under the complicated TSSAA playoff
Millsaps contributed to this report.