Notre Dame 31, Hixson 6
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Notre Dame lost its starting tailback on the first offensive snap of the game, but didn't miss a beat.
Kareem Orr and Auston Banks combined for 219 yards rushing and two scores to lead Notre Dame to a 31-6 rout of visiting Hixson in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.
The Irish will travel to top-seeded Giles County in round two. Hixson, who was playing in the postseason for the first time since 2006, ends a breakthrough year with a 7-4 mark.
"I just keep telling our juniors and sophomores and freshmen to keep playing to give these seniors another week," said Notre Dame head coach Charles Fant. "these seniors have just been hungry for a shred of success, and we're finding it. We just want to keep playing another week, it doesn't matter who it's against."
Notre Dame lost freshman phenom Ricky Ballard to an ankle injury early, but Banks stepped in immediately to give the Irish a 7-0 first-quarter lead on a five-yard run. He later broke free for a 42-yard touchdown on third-and-24 late in the third quarter to put the game away.
Banks finished with 140 yards and the two scores, while Orr added 79 yards and a pair of short touchdown runs on 15 totes. Taylor Bankston also rushed for 77 yards as Notre Dame piled up 297 yards rushing as a team.
The Irish defense stymied the Wildcats' attack all night, allowing just 77 yards rushing and 144 total yards. Hixson's lone score came on a two-yard Isaiah Robinson touchdown run in the third quarter after a Banks fumble set Hixson up with a short field.
"This is where we want to be every year. We want to be in the playoffs fighting for a state championship," said Hixson's first-year head coach Jason Fitzgerald. "The seniors, as bad as it feels right now, they set a level for Hixson High School. This is the level we want to obtain every year."
Page 42, Signal Mountain 41 (overtime)
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Signal Mountain rallied to erase a 28-point second-half deficit, but missed an extra point in overtime to drop a 42-41 heart-breaker to visiting Page in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.
The Eagles (7-4) came up empty in three trips inside Page's 20-yard-line in the first half, and found themselves in a 21-0 hole at the break. Page quarterback Zak Mizell threw two first-half touchdowns, and Zac Weiland's second rushing score of the night gave the visitors a 28-0 lead in the third quarter.
Signal Mountain senior quarterback Reese Phillips wouldn't go without a fight, leading his team on a furious rally that culminated on a seven-yard pass to Diamez Franklin and James McClellan's two-point conversion run to tie the game at 35-all with ten seconds left in regulation.
McClellan followed with the final of his four touchdowns to open the first overtime period, but the Eagles' PAT sailed wide. Mizell answered quickly with touchdown pass to Booker Leach, and Page's successful kick provided the winning margin.
Phillips, who is verbally committed to Kentucky, finished his final prep game 16-of-28 for 254 yards. McClellan added 155 yards rushing on 30 carries.
East Hamilton 38, Marshall County 0
EAST BRAINERD, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Blake Noorbergen scored a pair of touchdowns and Logan Jackson added two more on the ground as East Hamilton easily collected its first-ever playoff win, 38-0 over Marshall County in the opening round of the Class 4A bracket.
The Hurricanes will host Page in next week's second round.
Noorbergen, who scored a touchdown in last week's win over Howard on his first career catch, added a 69-yard score on his second career reception Friday night. He later added an eight-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, his only other touch of the game.
Jackson gave East Hamilton (10-1) an early 14-0 lead on scoring jaunts of 14 and 53 yards, but left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. The senior standout, who has rushed for more than 1,500 yards this season, will have an MRI this weekend to find out the extent of the injury.
Matt Milita and Lamond Greer stepped into his spot, combining for 152 yards rushing and one score.
Boyd-Buchanan 27, Rockwood 19
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Rance Harden scored three touchdowns and Caleb Arnwine kicked two field goals to help Boyd-Buchanan outlast a spirited effort from Rockwood in a 27-19 win in the opening round of the Class 2A playoffs.
The Bucs (10-1) will now travel to second-seeded Oneida, who enjoyed a first-round bye.
The visiting Tigers scored first for a quick 6-0 lead, but it last less than a minute. Jim Cardwell's long kickoff return set Boyd up deep in Rockwood's end, and Rance Harden scored on the next play from 27 yards out.
Harden later added a 51-yard touchdown run on the Bucs' next possession, and caught Cardwell's only pass of the night for a four-yard score in the third quarter that gave Boyd a 24-6 lead.
Harden rushed for 176 yards on 20 carries, while Cardwell added 142 to account for all of the Bucs' 318 rushing yards.
Arnwine booted a 29-yard field goal to end the first half, as well as a 28-yarder that sealed the win with 29 seconds left to play. Rockwood had pulled within 24-19 on two fourth-quarter scores, but Boyd recovered the onside kick following the second and milked the clock until Arnwine's final kick.
Ooltewah 47, Anderson County 28
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Ooltewah used defense and special teams to rally from an early 14-0 deficit and eventually pull away from visiting Anderson County for a 47-28 win in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The Owls (8-3) will travel to Lenoir City in next week's second round. Lenoir City advanced by beating Walker Valley, 44-16.
Ooltewah got two defensive scores on interception returns from Stewart Doss and T.J. Davis, as well as a 72-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Phillip McClain.
Desmond Pittman carried the load offensively with 38 carries for 160 yards and a second-half score.
Ringgold 14, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 9
FORT OGLETHORPE, Ga. (WRCB) -- Slade Dale's three-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to play to help Ringgold clinch a Class AAA state playoff spot with a 14-9 rivalry win over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe.
In a game Tigers' coach Robert Akins called the biggest in the rivalries' history, Dale made the game's two biggest plays. The junior quarterback hit a diving Christian Plott for a key 36-yard completion on third-and-20 to keep the game-winning drive alive. His three-yard dive around the left side of the line clinched the victory with 36 seconds left on the clock.
Dale finished with 211 yards on 20 carries to lead Ringgold (6-3, 4-2 in Region 5-AAA) to its eighth straight win over its cross-county rival.
His heroics came moments after Jacob Gilbert's four-yard run gave LFO (6-3, 3-3) a 9-8 lead with 6:39 to play.