By JOSH VARDAMAN
Christ Presbyterian Academy (6-6) at Goodpasture Christian (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday
Region 5-3A adversaries Christ Presbyterian Academy and Goodpasture Christian will meet Friday in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
The two teams met once in the regular season, with Goodpasture handing the Lions a 31-28 loss, CPA’s second of the season and second league defeat in five years.
The Lions led the first matchup 14-10 going into the fourth quarter, and in the final 12 minutes both teams exploded with 35 combined points.
After a CPA score, Goodpasture answered with 21-straight points to take a 31-21 lead. The Lions got one final touchdown on the board, but couldn’t post another one.
The game was a breakout of sorts for CPA sophomore quarterback Ryan Eledge. He connected on 12-of-19 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Since that game, the signal caller has thrown for 596 yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Eledge has been helped in the passing game by the emergence of fellow sophomore receiver Noah Henderson. Since catching eight passes for 180 yards and two scores against Goodpasture, he has tallied 252 yards and three touchdowns in three games.
If CPA wants to keep its season going and keep gunning for its possible fourth state championship appearance in a row, it will have to bring a four-quarter defensive effort.
In the teams’ first matchup, the Lions played well defensively for three quarters. The problem was Goodpasture quarterback Dylan Books got hot. He threw two touchdown passes in the final 12 minutes to help steal the game.
CPA should come into the game riding momentum defensively after limiting previously-unbeaten Stratford to just seven points in the Lions’ 10-7 upset victory last week.
The winner Friday will move on to the Class 3A semifinals, where the winner of Liberty Magnet and Dyersburg will be waiting.
Spring Hill (7-5) at Marshall County (11-1), 7 p.m. Friday
If the Spring Hill Raiders want to keep their incredible postseason going another week, they will have to pull off an upset Friday against Marshall County.
The Region 4-4A top-seeded Tigers breezed past Spring Hill 49-12 in the teams’ first meeting on Oct. 14.
A lot has changed for the Raiders since their first contest against Marshall County this season. In the four games since, they have a 3-1 record and the lone loss was 43-42 in the penultimate week of the regular season to Lipscomb Academy.
Two of Spring Hill’s three victories during its current winning streak have been playoff upsets against previously-undefeated Stone Memorial and last week against Region 4-4A two-seed Page.
If the Raiders want to keep their season going, they will have to bring their offense. In their first matchup, Marshall County limited Spring Hill to just 247 total yards (57 passing). The Tigers are also riding a three-game shutout streak in which they have outscored their opponents 142-0.
An advantage Spring Hill may have in Friday’s contest is senior quarterback Blake Lovell is back in the lineup. After missing almost two months of action, he has been in the starting lineup for the last three games and has thrown for 446 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Raiders will also hope for another big gamefrom their workhorse running back, Dontae Smith. He’s racked up 2,054 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns this season.
What might be scary for the Tigers’ defense is Smith might be playing on extra motivation from the last time the two teams played. They limited the sophomore to a season-low 78 yards on 13 carries. Since then, though, he’s rushed for 903 yards and seven TDs in four games. That includes two playoff games of 209 yards and one score against Stone Memorial and 312 yards and two TDs against Page last week.
If Spring Hill behind Smith and Lovell can put get on the board against Marshall County’s defense that gives up just 8.75 points per game, the Raiders will also have to bring some sort of defense to slow the Tigers down.
Behind quarterback Bryce Wallace (2,471 passing yards, 30 TDs, five INTs) and receivers Jay Howard (66 catches, 870 yards, 11 TDs) and Tre Crutcher (61 receptions, 926 yards, 13 TDs), Marshall County averages 43.6 points per game.
In the first meeting between the two teams, the Tigers racked up 541 total yards of offense. Wallace completed 11-of-15 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Kamron Liggett rushed 16 times for 204 yards and three more scores.
Friday’s winner will move on to the Class 4A semifinals to face either Knoxville Central or Knoxville Fulton.