MARYVILLE (WVLT) -- Maryville's 48-21 state semifinal win over Sullivan South was pretty impressive. However, there's one number that looms even larger:
That's how many consecutive games the Red Rebels (14-0) have won since falling to Morristown West in the 2003 4A semifinals. This year's Maryville senior class has not lost a football game. It'll get its chance to win the program's fourth straight state title Saturday in Murfreesboro against the Maplewood Panthers, who are appearing in their first state championship since 1975 after dispatching Henry County 36-35 in overtime.
Early Friday, Kingsport Sullivan South looked to present a substantial challenge to the Red Rebels, riding two first-half touchdowns by Wisconsin-commitment quarterback Curt Phillips to trail only 21-14 at halftime.
But George Quarles' squad pulled away in the second half, outscoring South 20-0 in the third quarter en route to the 27-point victory. Running back Thomas Shuler scored three touchdowns, including two late in the game, to put South away.
Red Rebels quarterback Brent Burnette also provided plenty of fireworks, throwing back-to-back touchdowns of 50 yards or more in the second quarter.
Maryville kicks off against Maplewood at 5pm Eastern standard time Saturday.
Not every team tasted success Friday. The Bearden Bulldogs came within an onside kick of getting a chance to tie Smyrna, but the officials gave possession to Smyrna even thought it appeared Bearden had recovered the kick.
The 17-14 failed comeback bid ended the Bulldogs' quest to reach the school's first-ever state championship, but not after a valiant 12-2 season, especially impressive considering head coach Bill Wilson passed away suddenly in April.
Trailing 17-0 in the fourth quarter, Cory Eichholtz caught a tipped Dawson Halliday pass in the end zone to make the score 17-7. After a successful Bearden onside kick recovery, Halliday threw another touchdown pass to get his team within three points.
But the failed onside kick ended the Bulldogs' state title hopes, only miles away from their desired destination of Murfreesboro.
Alcoa completed the Blount County state title duo for the fourth straight season, whitewashing Donelson Christian Academy 38-0 to reach its fourth consecutive championship game. Troy Hodge caught two touchdown passes, of 34 and 24 yards, respectively, to lead the Tornadoes to victory.
Alcoa will face Goodpasture in Murfreesboro for the third consecutive year. The Tornadoes cruised in the two previous meetings, winning 31-3 last season and 55-13 two years ago.
Fulton advanced to its fifth state title game in six years with a 44-16 rout of Pearl-Cohn. The Falcons also beat Pearl-Cohn in the semis last year, after which they went on to win the 3A championship over David Lipscomb, the team they will face at 2pm Saturday after the Mustangs defeated Memphis Mitchell, 20-18.