MARYVILLE — Maryville’s dominance over Rutherford County took another step forward Friday night.
But it wasn’t a large step.
The top-ranked Rebels defeated second-ranked Oakland 27-13 at Shields Stadium in a Class 6A state semifinal to advance to their 12th consecutive BlueCross Bowl and extend their win streak to 44.
Maryville (14-0) will play Ravenwood (13-1) on Dec. 5 in the 6A championship game. It’s a rematch of last year’s title game that Maryville won 35-34 in overtime.
Maryville needed a Joel Hopkins 5-yard touchdown run with 1:34 remaining to put the game away and improve to 7-0 against Rutherford County teams since the Rebels jumped from Class 4A to 6A in 2009. Maryville is 100-4 in that span.
“We feel like we had to run the gauntlet this year,” Maryville coach George Quarles said. “We had to play Warren County, who is well-coached. We played Cookeville, Blackman and Oakland.
“I don’t know many teams that are going to go through that and beat all of them. I will say playing these teams beats you up a little bit.”
Oakland (12-2) trailed 20-13 after Patriots kicker Aaron Sears booted a 21-yard field goal. JaCoby Stevens picked off Dylan Hopkins on Maryville’s first play of the ensuing drive and raced to the corner of the Oakland end zone.
However, he was stopped short of the end zone. A block in the back moved it back to the Oakland 21 with 1:12 left in the third quarter.
“It’s about to be a tie ballgame, unless we go for two,” Oakland coach Kevin Creasy said. “They’ve never been behind all year. I thought it would be a great way to see how they would respond. More than likely, they would have responded like a state championship program. But we will never know because a guy throws a flag on the biggest play of the ball game.
“It’s just one of those things that happens in football games. But oftentimes in the playoffs, we see them kind of hesitate to change the game themselves. (Stevens) made a great play. He’s made those plays all year. And they throw a flag that’s insignificant.”
Oakland failed to convert a first down on the series, giving the ball back to Maryville at its own 17.
Oakland had one more chance with 7:46 left after Maryville kicker Matthew Cone’s 31-yard field goal hit the cross bar. But the Patriots were forced to punt with 4:40 left. Maryville then put the game away on Hopkins’ TD, his second of the game.
“We just knew we were going to play with relentless effort the entire game,” Oakland senior Ty Nix said. “If we played with effort, we knew we’d have a shot at the end.”
Maryville led 20-10 at halftime, scoring six points on two Cone 32-yard field goals in the final 17.7 seconds.
Mr. Football finalist TD Blackmon stripped quarterback Brendan Matthews on a dive play on the Patriots’ first play after the first field goal to set up the second kick. Matthews had his helmet pulled off on the play.
“They rip his helmet off,” Creasy said. “It’s human nature to go for your helmet, your head. They had a no call there, but did recognize the fumble. Hindsight, we should have taken a knee.”
Maryville’s Isaiah Cobb opened the scoring on a 46-yard screen play up the Maryville sidelines. Cobb’s score came two plays after Kelby Brock reeled in a 49-yard deep pass from Dylan Hopkins, who was 12 of 23 passing for 204 yards with 56 yards rushing.
But Oakland answered on its first play with Matthews hitting Zarius Gamble for a 79-yard TD catch.
Lazarius Patterson led Oakland with 114 yards on 25 carries.
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.