GATLINBURG — It was a forgettable night in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
No. 6 Gatlinburg-Pittman proved why it thinks it has a legitimate chance to unseat Alcoa as the king of Region 2-3A, racing to a 48-0 halftime lead en route to a 51-6 win. Scott High was left awaiting the test results on its injured quarterback for a third consecutive week.
There was good news and a silver lining for Scott High (2-3, 0-2). The good news was that senior Alex Rector did not break his hand, as feared, test results showed Saturday morning. The silver lining was that the Highlanders’ youngsters beat Gatlinburg’s youngsters in an abbreviated second half, trading a field goal for a touchdown with freshman William Young scoring from 11 yards out to cap a 55-yard rushing effort that led his team.
After being limited to only a handful of yards in the second half, Scott had 115 yards in the second half, despite the running clock.
Everything else was Gatlinburg, though. G-P (5-0, 2-0) scored touchdowns on seven consecutive first half possessions after being forced to punt early, as Bryce Akey — arguably the top running back in Region 3-2A — racked up 172 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries.
Gatlinburg quarterback JD Shults completed 8 of 12 passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns.
Rector made the start at quarterback for a second consecutive week, but left the game in the first half with a hand injury after hitting it on a facemask. In his absence, the Highlanders — who are already down a QB after sophomore Noah Buttram broke his ankle in the previous week’s win over Grainger — moved to their third option at the position, junior Dillion Day. It wasn’t Day’s first rodeo at the quarterback position; he’s been called upon to slide into that role before. It was not immediately clear whether he might get the starting nod in this week’s game against Cumberland Gap, which would depend on the seriousness of Rector’s injury.
Young was Scott High’s top offensive weapon. The freshman rushed for 55 yards on six carries — all in the second half. Fellow freshman Brady Strunk had 43 yards on 11 carries.
Defensively, the Highlanders were paced by Phoenix Norris, who had eight tackles — three of them for losses — to lead Scott High in that category.
After Gatlinburg was forced to punt on its first possession, Akey broke off a 56-yard run on its second drive to take an early lead.
Moments later, Reese Cole caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Shults, and G-P went up 14-0.
Akey and Cole would both score again before the first quarter ended — Akey on a 6-yard run, and Cole on a 3-yard reception from Shults.
The second quarter saw Shults find Ethan Stinnett for a 7-yard touchdown hookup, and Houston Byrd scored on a 1-yard run moments later. The final score of the first half for Gatlinburg came on a 50-yard run by Akey with less than a minute to play before the intermission.
Scott High took the second half kickoff and marched quickly down the field. It started with a long kick return to midfield by Mason Owens. Then, with Day directing the offense, Young ripped off a 27-yard run, followed by a 12-yard run by Strunk to set up Young’s 11-yard touchdown.
Gatlinburg’s answer was a 26-yard field goal by Bryson Field.
The Highlanders had something going again in the fourth quarter, as Young and Strunk teamed up to advance the ball into Gatlinburg territory, but the clock expired on an 8-yard carry by Day.