MARYVILLE (WVLT) - 13-10.
The score had been on Dobyns Bennett's minds ever since the blustery night last October when the fourth-seeded William Blount Governors upset the Region 1-5A champion Indians, handing them a first-round playoff loss for the second time in as many years.
Thanks to the Govs, there's now a new score on the mind of the illustrious Kingsport squad: 24-14.
Darren Garner rushed for 136 yards on 16 carries to lead William Blount (2-0) to victory, and, in the eyes of many, to a new level of prominence in East Tennessee.
Quarterback Tyler Burstrom was 20-of-32 for 202 yards, tacking on an interception on the defensive end for good measure.
Perhaps the story of the game, however, was special teams. Punter Kase Whitehead boomed several punts of 50 yards or more, including a 64-yard gem in the third quarter. In fact, it was DB's fourth-quarter fumble of a Whitehead punt with two minutes left that allowed the Governors to set up inside the Indians' 10-yard-line and seal the victory.
A special teams play by Dobyns Bennett gave the Indians early momentum -- Lane Dukart returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. But William Blount responded, scoring the next 10 points in a seesaw first half. A 45-yard scamper by Garner gave the Govs a 17-14 halftime advantage.
Both teams' defenses settled in during the second half, with the late game-sealing Garner touchdown serving as the lone score.
William Blount improved to 2-0 with the victory, while DB fell to 1-1. More challenges lie ahead for the Govs, whose Blount County counterparts are among the most dominant teams in Tennessee. Both Maryville and Alcoa have won the last three state championships in their respective classifications, with Maryville tallying seven of the last nine 4A titles.
But Blount's victory Friday is a big step towards emulating Maryville and Alcoa's success. They'll get a chance to prove themselves head-to-head against the Rebels in a few weeks: the rivals meet September 28 on Blount's homefield.
Next up for the Govs is Soddy-Daisy, a team they throttled 38-0 last season. After that, 5A power and region foe Ooltewah awaits.
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