BY DARREN REESE
It took Greeneville a little while to get going Friday night, but once the Devils did, they had no problem pulling away from cross-county rival Chuckey-Doak.
Zack Finchum finished with 239 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns to help pace Greeneville to a 42-6 District 2-AA victory at the Black Hole.
The Greene Devils improve to 5-3 overall and 4-0 in league play. Chuckey-Doak falls to 5-3 and 2-2, respectively.
"Practice was slow this week and as a result we started slow tonight," Greeneville head coach Caine Ballard said. "Offensively, we just struggled in the first half. I thought our defense played well."
"(Chuckey-Doak) came out ready to play tonight and we didn't. No matter who you are playing, this game is about emotion and heart, and they had it tonight."
Finchum completed 8-of-11 passes for 129 yards and one touchdown, but on the ground is where he did the bulk of his scoring damage. He totaled 110 rushing yards and ran for four touchdowns.
Tanner Stewart added 10 carries for 80 yards. Andrew Houston, Brandan Hall and Hays Culbreth caught two passes apiece.
Chuckey-Doak was led by Bryce Malone, who tallied 152 yards and 27 rushes. He found the end zone from nine-yards out with 11 seconds left in the game to end Greeneville's shutout bid.
Greeneville held a 326-168 advantage in total yards, though Chuckey-Doak totaled more first downs (18-16).
"You aren't going to have a lot of big, long plays against a team like Greeneville," Chuckey-Doak head coach Aaron Christian said. "We had some openings tonight and just didn't execute."
"We have to be a lot more crisp on offense."
Greeneville struggled offensively in the first quarter, as two of its first three drives ended with a fumble and a turnover on downs, respectively. Those two drives were sandwiched around a two-yard touchdown run by Finchum that put the Devils up 7-0 with 4:33 left in the opening stanza.
"We need to work on coming out and playing with great emotion and great excitement," Ballard said. "There is no excuse for not playing at a high level from the very start."
Greeneville increased its lead to 14-0 on an 11-yard run by Finchum midway through the second, and then added another touchdown courtesy of a Chuckey-Doak mistake just before halftime.
The Black Knights had been struggling with long snaps on punts all night, and with 3:12 on the clock disaster struck. Chuckey-Doak lined up to punt deep in its own territory, and the snap went sailing over the head of punter Colin Crews. Greeneville's Tyler Tomlinson pounced on the ball in the end zone and the Devils took a 21-0 cushion into intermission.
"We had several special teams breakdowns tonight," Christian pointed out. "You can't give away free touchdowns like that. It's just something you can't do and expect to win."
Finchum scored on a 50-yard run on the first play of the second half, and then added a 12-yard scoring pass to Brandon Hall with 8:23 showing in the third quarter.
The clock ran continuously after that, due to the TSSAA mercy rule when the margin reaches 35 points.
Finchum capped off his night with a 14-yard touchdown run with 11 minutes left in the game.
Chuckey-Doak ended the game with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in Malone's touchdown run.
Christian, who is in his first year at the helm of the Black Knights, was making his head-coaching debut against his high school alma mater. He was a senior at Greeneville High School in 2000 when Ballard first joined the coaching staff.
"Aaron was a great player for us and I enjoyed my time as his coach," Ballard said. "As far as tonight, I try to be the same every week, no matter who we are playing."