KNOXVILLE — Scott High had its best offensive game of the season here Friday, rolling up 270 yards against Class 5A Karns.
Unfortunately, the Beavers also had their best offensive game of the season, torching a Highlander defense that has been the team’s strength for 477 yards en route to a 48-22 win — their first of the season.
Karns scored touchdowns on its first four offensive possessions. With the exception of the clock hitting zeroes at the end of the first half, and a snap over the quarterback’s head that resulted in a safety on the first possession of the second half, the Beavers did not fail to find the end zone, putting up the second-most points the Highlanders had allowed this season.
“I thought our guys took some steps in the right direction towards understanding how to win, offensive-wise,” Scott High head coach Josh Terry said. “They had their best game of the year. The same things are still biting us a little bit, but it’s a process and I feel like our guys are headed in the right direction, so to speak.”
Scott High rolled up nearly 200 yards on the ground, but Karns was even better through the air. Beaver quarterback Daniel Kitts completed 17 of 20 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns. Both he and receiver Thomas Harper — a college-bound wideout who finished with seven receptions for 143 yards and three touchdowns — had banner days.
Still, the Highlanders were in the game most of the way. Dillion Day went all the way at quarterback, completing 13 of 16 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Ashton Rowe had 54 yards on six carries to lead the Highlander rushing attack, while Grainger Smith added 53 yards on six carries and Dawson Branstetter had 46 yards on nine carries.
Daniel Hembree was Day’s favorite receiver, with six catches for 44 yards. Smith added four receptions for 21 yards.
In the end, though, it was Karns’ offense that stole the show. Remarkably, the Beavers completed all eight of their third downs and never had a fourth down in the game.
One misfortune for Scott High was penalties. The Highlanders were flagged 15 times for 128 yards. Scott also lost a pair of fumbles, which Karns converted into two touchdowns to help the Beavers put the game away.
Kitts and Harper hooked up on the game’s opening possession, a four-yard touchdown pass. After a Highlander turnover, they found each other again, a 46-yard touchdown pass that pushed the Beavers ahead 14-0.
The lead became 21-0 when Kitts and Harper hooked up for the third time, a 42-yard touchdown to start the second quarter.
From there, things finally began to improve for the Highlanders. Smith found the end zone on a six-yard run to cut the Karns lead to 21-7.
And while Karns had an answer, with a 60-yard touchdown run by Caleb Keeter, the Highlanders were able to strike again with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Day to Branstetter just before the end of the first half.
A snap over the quarterback’s head resulted in a safety on Karns’ first offensive possession of the second half, helping Scott cut the lead to 27-15. But the Highlanders were not able to fully take advantage. After reaching the red zone, a holding penalty backed the Highlanders up, then a fumble was recovered by Jacob Landsman to give the Beavers possession.
From there, Karns marched 78 yards for a touchdown, which came on a 7-yard run by Isaiah Jones, to build the lead to 34-15.
Still, Scott High wasn’t finished. The Highlanders struck back with a two-yard touchdown run by Smith late in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 34-21. Then Alex Rector recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Highlanders the ball near midfield and an opportunity to cut the Karns lead to a single possession.
It wasn’t to be, however, as Karns’ defense forced a three-and-out, and then the Beavers broke free for a 78-yard touchdown when Kitts found Jalen Tucker through the air.
Karns would add another score late in the fourth quarter, when Jones scored on a 9-yard run.
The Highlanders’ final possession saw Rowe do his damage on the ground, with back-to-back carries of 23 yards and 21 yards to push the ball deep into Karns territory. But the clock expired with the Highlanders on the four-yard-line.