By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett won at Tennessee High with a dramatic field goal en route to its first Mountain Lakes Conference championship in 2018, and two years later, the Pioneers are on pace for a reboot.
Edison Gouge made a 38-yard field goal with 20 seconds left Friday at the Stone Castle, lifting Crockett to a 24-22 victory.
The victory put the Pioneers (4-0, 6-2) in first place in the league. Of course, rival Daniel Boone visits Jonesborough on Friday, and a Trailblazers (3-1, 4-3) win would give Boone, Crockett and Tennessee High one loss apiece.
Crockett appeared to have a league loss when Jacob Craft made a 39-yard field goal to give Tennessee High a 22-21 lead with 1:28 remaining. But an exceptional 35-yard reception in traffic by Prince Kollie and another 9-yard catch by Kollie gave Gouge a chance.
Gouge was already frustrated about his night to that point, which included a missed PAT and a shanked punt.
“I hadn’t had the best night kicking, and I think we all knew that,” Gouge said. “I was just trying to stay calm.”
Trace Silvers snapped the ball, Brenden Reid got down the hold and Gouge delivered calmly.
“Everything was perfect,” Gouge said, pausing in attempt to describe the game-winning rush of emotion. “It was phenomenal.”
Kollie rushed for 125 yards, much of it on his own, and caught three passes for 85 yards. The 35-yard catch to the Tennessee High 30, while going up against the talented double-team of Isaiah Smith and Jaden Keller, won’t be forgotten in Jonesborough.
“I knew a hundred percent that he would come down with the ball,” said Crockett quarterback Mason Britton, who ended the game by making a Hail Mary interception in the end zone. “In my opinion he’s the best football player on the field and in the state. I’ve known him since I was little and he’s always been a playmaker. We’ve been friends for forever. He’s just a great football player.”
Kollie, a Notre Dame commit eyeing a career near Touchdown Jesus, was requesting divine intervention when Gouge took the field.
“I was praying,” Kollie said. “And God answered my prayers. I love EG, too. We’re all good kids, goodhearted kids.”
Gouge works with former Crockett-East Tennessee State kicker Herbie Campbell. So did A.J. Boyd, who kicked Crockett’s game-winning field goal in overtime two years ago at Tennessee High.
“We felt confident in Eddie,” Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said. “What a kick, what a hold, what a snap.”
Crockett also got productive nights out of linemen Tony Davis and Damian Vance and skill players Brenden Reid and Brayden Reid.
Crockett led 21-0 early in the third quarter. Connor Bailey’s 36-yard fumble return for a TD ignited the Vikings furious rally.
“God is good,” a smiling Chandley said. “Our kids are unbelievable. I made some bonehead calls there in the second half. The kids bailed me out, bailed us out. …
“What team is up 21-nothing, goes down 22-21 and responds the way we did. How ‘bout that catch Prince made.”
There were no dramatics in Boone’s victory, a 59-0 win at Cocke County. Brennan Blair went over 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight season during a 131-yard performance.
Blair rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns when Boone defeated Crockett, 28-20, last year in Nathan Hale Stadium.
This will be the 50th annual Musket Bowl and the fourth straight with championship implications.
“We beat ‘em over here to win the conference in ’17,” Trailblazers coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “And then in ’18 they beat us down there when we were both undefeated (in the conference). And then last year we beat ‘em over here and it came down to the wire. … We’ve had some great games.”
Defensive linemen Will Hamlin and Hagen Edwards had key roles in last week’s shutout.
“Right now Will Hamlin’s playing as well as he’s played for us,” Jenkins said. “He’s really doing a good job controlling the line of scrimmage, getting after the quarterback and playing the run really well. Hagen Edwards, our sophomore linebacker who’s had to take on a lot of the stuff since Devon White went out, has really played well the last couple of weeks. Those two kids have got to make some plays for us (against Kollie).
“We’ve gotta do a good job recognizing where people are and we’ve gotta tackle really good. You know, teams are there in position to make plays against Prince, and he’s just good. You have to swarm to the ball and gang-tackle. I don’t know of anybody in the area that’s gonna one-on-one tackle him. We’ve gotta do a good job defensively.”