SUSAN MOORE — Two fourth-quarter interceptions that were returned 60 and 50 yards for touchdowns propelled No. 8 Susan Moore past Geraldine 34-6, and earned the Blount County school the Class 3A, Region 7 championship.
It was a tight battle between the Bulldogs through the first three quarters. In the first period, Geraldine was first to score to take the lead 6-0. After forcing Susan Moore to go three plays and punt, Geraldine took over on downs at the 50-yard line, where running back Chase Kermondy ripped off a 50-yard touchdown run down with 3:52 remaining in the first quarter. Geraldine’s two-point conversion attempt failed.
On Susan Moore’s ensuing possession, the offense answered with an 11-play, 72-yard drive for a touchdown to pull ahead 7-6. Susan Moore running back Anthony Cervantes capped off the drive by powering a 12-yard carry into the end zone with 9:12 left in the second quarter. The extra point kick by Jesus Aguilar was successful. He finished 4-of-4 on PAT kicks.
To start the third quarter, Susan Moore capitalized on good field position due to a poor kickoff by Geraldine and drove 58 yards in 11 plays to increase its lead 14-6. It was Cervantes finding the end zone again with 5:34 remaining in the third quarter, this time on a 4-yard run.
On Geraldine’s ensuing possession, the offense started from the Geraldine 20-yard line and drove 21 yards before punting the football back to Susan Moore with five seconds remaining in the third quarter.
After Cervantes ended the quarter with a bruising 19-yard run to put Susan Moore at the Geraldine 39-yard line, the drive quickly stalled about two minutes into the fourth quarter. But after Geraldine’s return man muffed a punt, Susan Moore defender Gavin Harper recovered the football at the Geraldine 14-yard line to give Susan Moore’s offense new life. Two plays later Susan Moore coughed the football up at the Geraldine 3-yard line, and Geraldine defender Nate Rowell recovered. On the next play, Geraldine quarterback D.J. Graham fumbled the snap and Susan Moore’s Harper recovered the football a second time, this time at the 1-yard line. One play later, Susan Moore quarterback Camden Lackey kept the football and snuck into the end zone for a touchdown to increase the lead to 21-6 with 7:44 remaining in the game.
With a shot to pull the game to within one score, Geraldine took over at its own 43-yard line after a nearly 25-yard kickoff return, but Susan Moore’s defense was ready to put the game away. Geraldine was able to overcome a fourth down and long situation after Graham found Kyle Thackerson over the middle for a 24-yard gain to pick up a first down and keep the drive alive. However, with less than three minutes left in the game, Graham threw an interception into the hands of Susan Moore’s Trevor Black, who returned it for a 60-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 28-6.
On Geraldine’s following possession, Matthew Clowdus intercepted Graham’s pass again. Clowdus returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to essentially end the game 34-6. Susan Moore failed a two-point conversion.
Cervantes finished the game with 19 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns for Susan Moore, according to unofficial statistics recorded by The Reporter. He also had one reception for 10 yards.
With the victory over Geraldine, Susan Moore remains unbeaten at 9-0 (6-0 in region play) and is crowned Class 3A, Region 7 champions. Geraldine falls to 5-3 (4-1).