CROSSVILLE — It wasn’t that Scott was slow to get off the bus; it’s just that the bus was slow to show up.
To be a bit more precise, it was the Highlanders’ equipment truck that was slow to show up — a mechanical problem resulting in a delay that prevented Scott from taking the field until just minutes before the scheduled kickoff time at Cumberland County.
Whether that delay caused the Highlanders to start a little slowly on the field is anyone’s guess. But once Scott found a rhythm, Cumberland County simply had no answer, as SHS mounted a 21-0 lead and hit cruise control in the second half, winning 35-0.
Along the way, the Highlanders rolled up 370 yards of total offense, while limiting Cumberland County to 178 yards.
The bulk of the Highlanders’ yards — 273 — came on the ground, as Scott simply pounded the ball at Cumberland County.
“We just wanted to see if they could hold up to us running,” offensive coordinator Jackson Sharp said. “We wanted to move the football on the ground if they couldn’t stop us, and we did a good job of that for a very long time.”
Defensively, Cumberland County mounted one drive to the Highlander goal line, only to see Scott’s defense stiffen its backs, resulting in a second consecutive shutout.
“Coach G (defensive coordinator Broderick Gillespie) and our position coaches did a good job,” Scott coach Keith Shannon said. “They did their homework in the film room. I’m very proud of ‘em. That defensive stand set the tone for us.”
Coming off a record-setting seven turnovers forced a week ago, Scott’s defense forced just one turnover against Cumberland County — an interception by cornerback Jordan Puckett. But it was enough to preserve the shutout.
“Jordan went up and eyeballed that thing and took it away from the receiver like he knew exactly what to do,” Shannon said of Puckett’s interception. “We were very, very happy with all of those guys (in the secondary).”
Scott’s lone first quarter score was a seven-yard run by Hayden Byrge. And while that would have been enough, the Highlanders began to pick up the scoring pace in the second quarter.
First, quarterback Kaleb Byrge scored on an 18-yard keeper. Then, Byrge completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to JoBen Terry on a play that was set up by a 30-yard pass reception by Mark Karluah.
Coming off a record-setting performance on kickoff duties a week ago, Ryan Jeffers made all five of his extra point attempts against the Jets, and his kicks helped the Highlanders to a 21-0 halftime lead.
Scott scored two more touchdowns quickly in the first quarter — a 13-yard touchdown run by Justin King on the first possession out of the locker room, and a 32-yard touchdown run by Karluah on the second possession. Karluah’s score, which came with 8:15 to play in the third quarter, caused the running clock rule to take effect, greatly quickening the pace of the game the rest of the way.
“After our first possession, we were virtually scoring every time (we touched the ball),” Sharp said. “That’s just good execution. The offensive line was physical up front and moving people. They kept moving people in the box and we just kept moving them out of there.”