With five starters out for the first half of Friday’s 15-14, come-from-behind victory at Goodpasture, unbeaten Stratford needed players to step up.
While his assistance may have been more needed in the first half, Zyshawn Simmons waited until the second half to move to the forefront.
In fact, he waited until the final two minutes.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound senior tight end caught a 9-yard pass on a third-and-8 play, moving the Spartans into the red zone. Two plays later he snagged a 9-yard pass that set up first-and-goal at the 3.
Just one week earlier, Simmons fumbled in the red zone during another one-point victory, 7-6 over Christ Presbyterian Academy.
“He’s a tough matchup,” Stratford coach Maurice Fitzgerald said. “Last week, he had the same thing, but he coughed the ball up. This time, he came through.”
It was the third one-point victory for Stratford over a regional foe, including the CPA contest and a 20-19 win over East Nashville.
“We could be 4-4 … we could be 8-0,” Fitzgerald said. “We try to keep poised, but it’s not always easy to do. (Winning close games) builds a lot of character. I think we win this one (against Goodpasture) because we have been in close games.”
A record-breaking performance
Gallatin senior tailback Jordan Mason became the program’s all-time leading rusher in Friday’s 49-20 win over visiting Hendersonville.
Mason had 40 carries for 200 yards and scored five touchdowns (including one receiving). Mason eclipsed Jeremy McMurry’s career mark of 4,334 yards. Mason now has 4,381 yards.
There were numbers aplenty in Franklin’s 42-35 victory over Wilson Central on Thursday.
The Region 3-6A foes combined for 930 total yards.
- Wilson Central quarterback Blake Meadors completed 24 of 32 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns, but he was also intercepted three times.
- Franklin’s quarterback tandem of Carter Hendry and Wes Patterson combined to complete 15 of 19 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns.
- Wilson Central tailback Tyler Bowes rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, and Devon High caught a career-high 15 passes for 156 yards and two scores.
- Franklin senior Alex Gaca finished with seven receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
White House Heritage’s Nick DesMarais is accustomed to standing out on the basketball floor.
DesMarais is in his first season of playing football for the Patriots, but the 6-foot-4 wide receiver and defensive back made a big impact in Friday’s 34-13 win at Westmoreland.
He caught six passes for 231 yards, including touchdown receptions of 80, 58 and 30 yards.
DesMarais also blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone.
All eight of Middle Tennessee’s unbeaten football team’s remained unscathed.
But one is certain to not finish 10-0 in the regular season.
Columbia Academy (6-0) will only play nine games during the regular season after its opener against Franklin Road Academy was canceled due to inclement weather.
The other unbeaten squads include: Wayne County (7-0), Forrest (8-0), Stratford (8-0), Fairview (7-0), Independence (7-0), Cane Ridge (7-0) and Oakland (7-0).
Eleven area teams are still in search of their first win: Mt. Pleasant, Pickett County, Houston County, Loretto, East Hickman, Livingston Academy, Tullahoma, White House, Columbia, Glencliff and West Creek.
Reach Craig Harris at 615-259-8238 and on Twitter @CHTennessean.
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