Two-time defending state champion Ensworth (Nashville, Tenn.) advanced in the District II-AA playoffs with a 37-7 win over McCallie (Chattanooga, Tenn.) in the quarterfinals on Friday night.
Ensworth will host MBA in the state semifinals on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.
Senior running back Corn Elder carried the ball 24 times for 144 yards and four touchdowns. Elder did most of his damage in the second half, with 114 yards and three scores coming after the intermission.
"We weren’t quite getting where we needed to be defensively in the second half," McCallie coach Ralph Potter said. "With (Elder) it is vision and its quickness. He has the greatest ability to see where he can cut, better than anybody I think I have ever seen and he’s got great quickness to accelerate through a hole. There are times when you think you’ve got him… and then you don’t."
Elder had touchdown runs of one, six, nine and 26 yards.
After taking last week off due to a first round bye, the Tigers looked sluggish early in the game. In a scoreless first quarter, Ensworth had just one first down and Elder had just 11 yards rushing.
"We were doing some things (defensively) early that worked, but I knew they would figure them out," Potter said.
Ensworth went in at the half tied 7-7, and came out a completely different team.
"It wasn’t anything I told them, we just played better in the second half than we did the first half," Ensworth coach Ricky Bowers said. "And they (McCallie) did a nice job of preparing as they always do, they’re well coached.
The Tigers compiled 333 of their 462 total yards in a second half that saw Ensworth outscore McCallie 30-0.
"I really think it was about our intensity," Bowers said. "I think we blocked a little better and I think we made a couple little adjustments at halftime that helped us. Defensively we played much better in the second half. We cause a fumble, didn’t allow any points and didn’t allow them to keep the ball a whole quarter like they did in the first half."
McCallie was the first on the scoreboard with a 15-yard run from senior running back Samir Usman with 5:30 remaining in the second quarter. Ensworth answered on its next possession, with a 43-yard run by D’Andre Ferby set up a one yard touchdown run by Elder.
Ferby finished the game with 98 yards rushing and junior Chandler Telfer had 68. In total, the Tigers gained 335 yards on 38 carries. Rico McGraw added a 14-yard touchdown run in his lone rushing attempt.
Tigers quarterback Andrew Bowers was 8-of-15 for 127 yards and an interception.
Ensworth won the first match-up between the teams 47-10 in Week 2, with Elder rushing for 277 yards and four touchdowns. The Tigers beat next round’s opponent, MBA, by a score of 35-7 on Oct. 5.
Reach Nick Cole at 615-259-8010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.