HUNTLAND – For the first time in school history, the Middle Tennessee Christian School football team is District 9-A champions.
The Cougars defeated undefeated Huntland 52-28 Friday to capture its first-ever district title.
MTCS, Huntland and Forrest all ended with one district loss. Due to the tie-breaker, MTCS finished first, Huntland second and Forrest third.
Two years ago, MTCS and Huntland were both 0-9 when they went into their regular-season ending game. Both teams have made turnarounds.
“It’s unbelievable, indescribable,” said MTCS quarterback Justin Winn, who threw for 192 yards and a four touchdowns. “Going from the seasons we’ve had in the past, these guys fighting so hard in practice and coming out and showing what we could do in the games, I love this team. I’m proud of these guys.”
The Cougars and Hornets were in a battle in the first half. The teams exchanged scores and MTCS went into halftime with a 22-21 lead.
But the Cougars scored on their first two possessions of the second half to take control of the game.
“We really didn’t make any changes,” coach Fred Shambaugh said. “We just went ahead with our game plan. We knew now how they were going to cover stuff, so it made it easier in the second half.”
The Hornets scored on their first drive, keeping the ball on the ground the entire way. D.J.Taylor scored from 29 yards out. He had 146 rushing yards for Huntland.
MTCS scored just 34 seconds later on its first possession. With its West Coast no-huddle offense, the Cougars only needed three plays to get in the end zone. Tanner Green scored on a 15-yard run, but after the Cougars failed on the two-point conversion the score was 7-6.
Huntland scored on its next possession, a one-yard run by Taylor, making it 14-6.
After the teams exchanged possessions, the Cougars scored again on a two-yard pass from Winn to Peyton Buckner. The two-point conversion tied it.
Huntland got a big play on its next possession, a 65-yard screen pass from quarterback Evans Ray to Cameron Mahaffey. That made it 21-14.
MTCS scored again quickly, only taking 42 seconds to run four plays. Winn connected with Griffin Harper for a 35-yard touchdown pass, and the Cougars converted the two-point conversion for the halftime lead.
The Cougars started out the second half with a six-play 1:59 drive. Winn threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Harper and the two-point conversion failed, making the score 28-21.
After recovering a Huntland fumble, the Cougars were in business again. They went 49 yards on seven plays. Winn threw another touchdown pass to Harper, this one from six yards away, and the Cougars converted the two-point conversion.
“They threw the ball really well,” Huntland coach Bob Robertson said. “We’ve had trouble stopping the pass. That proved to be our downfall tonight.”
Green had a 58-yard touchdown run, and Trey Hickey scored on an 83-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.