Thursday, October 25, 2007

Phillips powers South past Elizabethton

Phillips powers South past Elizabethton, 58-14
Published 10/26/2007 By Bill Lane

KINGSPORT — Curt Phillips’ path to prominence as a high school quarterback has been lined with Herculean performances.

He turned in another one Thursday night as Sullivan South defeated Elizabethton 58-14 for its eighth win of the football season.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Phillips takes direct snaps in South’s shotgun offense, which closely resembles a single wing.

Essentially, he serves as an extra running back when not throwing.

Phillips kept the ball 19 times for 162 yards to become a 1,000-yard rusher for the second time in his three-year career. He also connected on 10 of 13 passes for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Additionally, the Mountain Lakes Conference scoring leader got two touchdowns to extend his season point total to 138.

Opening the game, Elizabethton (3-6, 2-4) refused to accept the role of a heavy underdog. The Cyclones immediately went on the attack and built a 14-0 lead in less than nine minutes.

At this juncture, Phillips took over the game. He set off an avalanche of scoring with his powerful running and pinpoint throwing. After missing his first two passes, he completed the next eight.

He used every inch of the field to find receivers Kaleb Kitzmiller, Houston Martin, Seth Johnson and Bradley Jeffers open on pass plays.

“Curt took it on his shoulders to bring us back,’’ coach Stacy Carter said. “As he began to move the ball, it helped our defense, too.’’

Phillips, who rushed for 1,003 yards as a sophomore, has already topped his best rushing season with 1,053 yards. Anything he gets against Tennessee High in next week’s showdown game simply will be gravy.

“We needed a tough test and handled it pretty well,’’ Phillips said. “Elizabethton’s defenders were kind of playing off our receivers. We knew as long as we protected the ball, we would be successful.’’

Running back Taylor Fletcher enjoyed his second 100-yard rushing effort by gaining 111 on nine carries.

“Fletcher had a great game,’’ Phillips said, “and the line gave us plenty of time to throw.’’

Elizabethton halfback Derek Carr, who rushed for 125 yards on 10 carries in the first half, gave his team a 7-0 lead by racing 57 yards on the fourth play of the game.

On the Cyclones’ next possession, they marched 69 yards to score again. Fullback Brooks Price plunged the final yard for a 14-0 lead.

The two-TD deficit turned South’s lights on.

“Elizabethton just ran the ball down our throats,’’ Carter said. “We had to challenge our boys to respond, and they did.’’

Phillips’ 46-yard kickoff return set the Rebels in motion. He scored moments later on a 30-yard run.

Phillips really unloaded in the second quarter, keeping for a 6-yard TD run and pitching scoring passes of 30 and 22 yards, respectively, to Martin and Jeffers. As the first half closed, South place-kicker Jordan Willingham got his first field goal of the year — a 30-yarder.

South capitalized on three fumbles in the last seven minutes of the half. Clint Phillips claimed the first at midfield, Ty Garvin jumped on one at the Rebels’ 35-yard line and Michael Acero recovered the other at Elizabethton’s 25.

Thus, in a span of eight minutes, South put up 24 points for a 31-14 halftime lead.

Fletcher scored twice in the second half — on runs of 27 and 20 yards. Brad Shanks added an 11-yard TD run and Kitzmiller returned a blocked punt 3 yards for a TD. Ryan Halverson blocked the punt.

Kitzmiller had four catches for 60 yards, Martin three for 48, Johnson two for 28 and Jeffers one for 22.

Clint Phillips, Spencer Sandidge, Derrick Fisher and Chris Collins played exceptional defense for South.

“We knew we had to run the ball to keep South’s offense off the field,’’ Elizabethton coach Shawn Witten said. “Obviously, it wasn’t enough. We gave it all we had and ran out of gas.

“We gave South the ball three times on turnovers in the first half, resulting in 17 points. You can’t give a team like that three extra possessions. Our program isn’t there yet, but one day we’re going to be putting points up like that.’’

If Tennessee High beats Sullivan Central Friday, the Vikings and South will be meeting with identical 8-1, 6-0 records. South, by winning, could land its third straight MLC championship.

Witten’s brother Jason, the Dallas Cowboys’ starting tight end, attended the game and attracted a mob of autograph seekers. More than 100 fans cornered him in front of the fieldhouse during the first half.

This is a bye week for the Cowboys and Witten will be honored at Knoxville Saturday during the Tennessee-South Carolina game
Kingsport Times-News
P.O Box 479
701 Lynn Garden Drive
Kingsport, TN

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