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Can’t Hold That Tiger

Dodson runs for 300 yards, five TDs to deny Rebel three-peat

Whitehaven running back Mark Dodson lunges for the pylon during Saturday’s Class 6A state championship game. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Cookeville – The toughest thing about close games is the look back.

Shawn Prevo makes for the Whitehaven end zone behind blocks from Trenton Shuler (23), Robert Wright (69) and Chris Raymond. Photo by Brandon Shinn

Whitehaven snapped a 43-game win streak and a run of back-to-back Maryville state championships with a 36-35 overtime win in the Class 6A state championship game Saturday night inside Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium.

The Tigers, paced by Mississippi commitment and BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player Mark Dodson, are worthy champions, Rebel coach George Quarles said.

“Give Whitehaven credit,” he said. “They made plays we weren’t able to make.”

Dodson ran for 318 yards and five touchdowns on 34 carries, averaging 9.4 yards per rush. The Mr. Football finalist scored on a 1-yard run on the second possession of overtime, adding the conversion run for the championship winning points.

Whitehaven (15-0) featured several players who’ve given verbal commitments to major colleges, with more to come. The middle of the Tiger line on defense was hard to believe.

All that withstanding, the Rebels (14-1) looked to have landed a telling blow with 45 seconds remaining in regulation.

T.J. Kimble fends of Whitehaven's David Rivers. Photo by Brandon Shinn

T.J. Kimble’s 13-yard touchdown pulled Maryville with 28-27, and Quarles elected to go for the lead on the conversion. A trick-play pass from receiver Cody Carroll to quarterback Nick Myers, with running back Shawn Prevo playing the role of decoy on a direct snap, worked to stunning effect, only to be disallowed on a controversial ineligible receiver downfield penalty.

“We put that in this past week,” Carroll said. “It couldn’t have been better drawn up.”

Quarles opted for a Miguel McNelly kick on the do-over to tie the score.

Prevo, 156 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, scored from 5 yards on the first possession of overtime, McNelly adding the point-after.

“I thought about going for two,” Quarles said. “We didn’t want to score and miss and all they had to do was kick and extra point.”

Dodson dashed to the right corner for the winning conversion for Whitehaven three plays later.

Brian Tillery (42) and Dylan Jackson (79) combine on the stop of Whitehaven quarterback Patrick Smith. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

The charged, final 45 seconds and overtime were already distant as Quarles addressed the media afterward. The nine-time state championship coach was looking farther back at chances missed.

The Tigers fumbled on the second play from scrimmage. Prevo cut through the line behind right guard to score from 2 yards for a 7-0 Maryville lead five plays later.

The Rebels threatened again with seven minutes to play in the quarter, reaching first-and-goal at the Whitehaven 4-yard line. The Tigers stripped the ball in a pile up at the line, then marched 91 yards in only four plays, Dodson collecting most of it on a 71-yard scoring burst around left end.

The full weight of what could have been was driven home when Myers flipped a 5-yard toss to tight end Logan Winders for a 14-7 Maryville lead with 10 minutes to go in the half. Leading 21-0 against so quick a team would have felt a lot better, Quarles said.

“If we would have gone up 14-0, that would have been big,” he said. “Instead, they go down the field and score.”

Dodson scored on a 7-yard run with 11 seconds to play in the half to tie the score. In the interim, the Rebels were intercepted twice and suffered a procedure penalty that facilitated a fourth-and-long punt.

A second lost fumble halted a Maryville drive on first-and-10 at the Tiger 38 with seconds to play in the third, the game locked in a 21-21 tie.

Logan Winders makes a second quarter touchdown catch. Photo by Brandon Shinn

Ironically, it would prove a bright for a Rebel defense that forced three Whitehaven turnovers, including a pair of interceptions.

Rebel sophomore Dylan Jackson stuffed Dodson in the backfield on third-and-1 at the Maryville 15 at the 10-minute mark of the fourth. Jackson and safety Brian Coulter combined to turn the Tigers over on downs with a stop on fourth-and-4.

“We had a horrible game in the semifinals,” Coulter said. “I’m so proud of my guys. We battled. That was a good team. Dodson’s a great player.”

Whitehaven put its nose out front, 28-21, on a Dodson 10-yard run with 3:39 remaining. Maryville marched 77 yards in nine plays to pull even on the Kimble catch

Marcus Brooks lines up Tiger receiver Darius Sims. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

with less than a minute to play.

“They’re a good team,” Carroll said. “We made a lot of mistakes. They just happened to pull it out there at the end.”

For a Maryville offense that entered the season replacing Vanderbilt freshman quarterback Patton Robinette, four of his linemen and most of the receiving corps, reaching the title game was an achievement in itself.

“I think we had a lot of doubters,” Myers said. “God blessed us with an opportunity. All we can do is be thankful.”








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