By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett senior Prince Kollie was good as gold for the 50th Musket Bowl.
The senior running back-linebacker, who has committed to Notre Dame, rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns and made key plays on defense in the Pioneers’ 20-14 victory Friday at Crockett.
The victory secured the Pioneers (5-0, 7-2) the No. 1 seed in Region 1-5A and their second league title in Coach Hayden Chandley’s three seasons. Boone fell to 3-2 in the league and 4-4 overall, and will be the region’s No. 3 seed if they defeat Cherokee next week.
Kollie’s 5-yard touchdown run via a direct snap and Edison Gouge’s PAT kick gave Crockett a 14-7 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter. Kollie brought another roar from the large crowd with an improbable 43-yard TD – making a number of would-be Trailblazers tacklers fail – to extend the Pioneers’ lead to 20-7 with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder rushed for 111 yards in the second half, including a 23-yarder on a gutsy fourth-and-one call from the Crockett 13-yard line with 4:07 remaining and the Pioneers leading, 20-14.
Following the fourth-down conversion, two more Kollie carries got Crockett another first down to seal it.
Kollie was excited to see Coach Hayden Chandley elect to go for the gutsy fourth-down conversion.
“I told my guys, ‘This is where we separate the men from the boys,’” Kollie said. “We’ve faced adversity before and we know how to handle it.”
Chandley didn’t blink while inches from a likely victory and 13 yards from a loss.
“You’ve got fourth and one at the 12 and no hesitation,” Chandley said. “Prince Kollie’s the best player in this area and it’s not close. We’re blessed to have him.”
Crockett’s offense didn’t take a snap until 10:32 remained in the second quarter. On the game’s opening possession, Boone drove 63 yards in 12 plays for a seven-yard TD run by Brennan Blair, who finished with 138 yards rushing on 34 carries.
But Crockett was tied on the scoreboard the first time it got the ball in the second quarter thanks to a 97-yard kick return for a TD by Brenden Reid. He credited John Rucker and Jordan Williams with key blocks on the return. Reid also made an interception on a fourth-and-goal from the 4 with 5:35 remaining.
“He’s a baller, man,” Kollie said with a smile when Reid’s name was mentioned. “I love him. I wouldn’t have anybody else on my team than No. 4.”
Crockett was seemingly in control when Rylan Trout jump-started a Boone rally. He fell on a botched punt in the end zone to get the Trailblazers within 20-14 with 8:08 remaining and then returned an interception to give Boone a first-and-goal at the nine yard line with 7:24 to go.
“(Trout) is a sophomore corner for us that’s really played well for us all year,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “I thought he was gonna tiptoe down the sideline there and get in there. They did a good job of knocking him out.
“But we get the ball first-and-goal there on the nine with five minutes to go to go win the championship, you’ve gotta score. And we didn’t. That’s what it comes down to. We didn’t execute well enough to score. That’s on me, and we’ve gotta get that taken care of. And we will.”
Boone was its own worst enemy with penalties in crucial situations.
“We had way too many mishaps,” Jenkins said. “We jumped offsides on the field goal. The special teams blunder. We had the two kicks we didn’t cover. So three special teams blunders. And then we have a punt return that we go over all the time and we had 12 men on the field. Again, a special teams blunder.
“A lot of it was caused by ourselves, and it starts with me. … I just felt like even though we were in the game, I felt like execution wise, we never were where we needed to be.”
Kollie was the difference.
“In close games, you know, good players are gonna rise,” Jenkins said. “And I felt Prince kind of did that in the second half. He made a heck of a run on the touchdown that put ‘em up 20-7. We were there. We just didn’t tackle him.”
Kollie was all smiles while fireworks exploded afterward. The rivals got to perform in front of a large crowd during a pandemic on a night when Crockett legends such as the late Tary Scott and Patrick Good were recognized.
“I’ve gotta give God the glory for allowing us to play and keeping our team healthy,” Kollie said, “and for putting a lot of great young men and a lot of great coaches around me. It’s an awesome night.”