BY SCOTT R. FISHER
GATLINBURG -- One team showed up ready to play Friday night and one team did not.
The Chuckey-Doak Black Knights made the long trip for the 3A playoff game against the Gatlinburg-Pittman Highlanders and were shell-shocked in the opening minutes and were defeated 48-21 at Hammonds Field.
The Highlanders exploded for 34 points in the first 6:19 of the game and were in control the entire way.
"We cannot get off the bus and not be ready to play," C-DHS head coach Aaron Christian said. "Traveling on the road, you need to be ready to go."
While Christian was disappointed with the outcome, he said he was proud of the team's performance over the entire season. Christian noted that the senior class finishes as the winningest class in the program's history.
Twenty-two and two. Those are the key numbers for the first drive by Gatlinburg-Pittman. The Highlanders ran two plays and scored in 22 seconds. The opening play was a pass that went for 55 yards.
Things did not get any better for the Black Knights. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled away deep in their zone.
After each team was whistled for a penalty, G-P added to its lead when Tanner Cox found Zeke Williams for a 26-yard scoring pass.
In less than one minute of game time, the Black Knights had surrendered two touchdowns and turned the ball over once.
The Chuckey-Doak offense failed to move the ball and punted the ball back to the Highlanders after three plays.
Three plays is all it took for Gatlinburg-Pittman to score its third touchdown of the game. Michael Muszik found the endzone with a 20-yard dash.
Muszik scored the very next time he touched the ball. After another three-and-out by the Black Knights, Muszik burst through the defense for a 40-yard score on the second play of the drive.
The fourth G-P score came after another fumble by Chuckey-Doak. Williams scored on a one-yard plunge. The TD came following a 47-yard pass by Cox to Clay England,
The disasterous first quarter for Chuckey-Doak ended with another Highlander touchdown with no time left on the clock. Cox tossed a 19-yard pass to cap a 10-play drive covering 52-yards.
"Take away the first seven minutes, it was 21-14 the rest of the way," Christian said. "I am proud the effort."
Christian said the team started to be more physical and that helped even the game in the final three quarters.
"We have been a physical team all year," Christian said. "We got them to the sideline and chewed some butt. They started playing physical."
The Black Knights opened with an eight play drive that helped the team gain some confidence. The big play was a 23-yard pass from Kris Hinkle to Brent Knight.
The Chuckey-Doak defense followed that up with a three-and-out which led to the first score of the game for the Black Knights.
Bryce Malone started getting loose and helped set the stage for the touchdown. Malone had runs of 13, 22 and 23 to open the scoring drive. Nick Sandstrom capped off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Malone finished with 220 yards on the night and became Chuckey-Doak's all-time single season rushing leader. Malone finished with 2103 on the year.
The second score of the game for the Black Knights was vintage Malone. He raced 63 yards to the end zone on first down on the very next possession following Sandstrom's touchdown.
Chuckey-Doak managed to hold the Highlanders scoreless in the second quarter while producing two scores. The halftime deficit was 41-14 for the visitors.
The two teams traded scores in the third quarter. Gatlinburg-Pittman took advantage of a poor punt. The Highlanders drove 27 yards in six plays.
Chuckey-Doak responded with a eight-play drive covering 60 yards. Hinkle was instrumental in the drive. He found Knight for 12 yards and scrambled 35 yards for the final score of the contest.
The offensive numbers for the two teams were huge. The teams combined for nearly 750 yards of total offense. The Black Knights ended with 305 yards.
While Chuckey-Doak's players never quit, the first quarter was too much for the Black Knights to overcome. The team finishes the year with a 6-5 record. Gatlinburg-Pittman advances to the second round and will play at Elizabethton next Friday.