McCallie Baylor Lives Up to the Hype, but Defense Is the Difference

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The earlier games on Thursday were run heavy and the execution in Chattanooga was fun to watch but the night game was very simply all about explosive athletes in all facets. Baylor vs McCallie for the state title in Chattanooga would be a massive game any year but this year, when both teams are essentially D1 talent showcases, it packed a little extra punch. Both quarterbacks, Vanderbilt commits, were completing passes and throwing touchdowns to Tennessee commits, Alabama commits, and Ohio State commits. Not to mention both running backs, Javon Mcmahan and Shekai Mills-Knight had incredible performances.

The first half was a classic shootout, with both teams firing and answering. You could feel the weight of every big play and how it could be looked back at post-game with disdain or amazement depending on if you were wearing red or blue.

The back and forth led to a first quarter with just under 300 yards of total combined offense and the second quarter was more of the same but the other phases of the game started to make their presence known when a bad snap went over the head of the Baylor punter setting McCallie up with just a 17-yard field. The Red Raiders not only held and forced a fourth and goal situation but on the fourth dawn play wrestled the ball away from the McCallie ballcarrier and returned it a TSSAA state championship record 98 yards for touchdown.  Just before the first half expired, McCallie quarterback, Jay St. Hilaire found Mr. Football finalist and Tennessee commit, Carson Gentle, in the back of the endzone to take a 27-21 lead at the break. Nearly 500 yards of offense was converted between the to teams in the first half.

The back and forth continued in the second half but not in the same way. It was more defensive. McCallie scored early in the second half to take a 34-21 lead, and then the Blue Tornado defense began to coil like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of the Baylor offense, turning them away scoreless on two separate goal-to-go situations.

It was then that the dam finally broke. Baylor was too talented a team to be shut out in the second half. That was never going to happen. Case and point, Whit Muschamp found Alabama commit Amari Jefferson all alone in the middle of the field and Jefferson showed great patience while setting up and using blocks to get in the endzone on a 63-yard one play drive. It was now a one score game in Chattanooga with just under seven minutes to go.

McCallie tried to move the ball as well as run clock the Baylor defense stood tall. It was going to be up to the McCallie defense to win the game. As time ticked down, they forced the Red Raiders into multiple third downs that they converted before stalling near midfield. Facing a fourth and 12 with little time remaining Muschamp dropped back and connected with Jefferson over the middle for….

 

11 yards

 

The McCallie defense had held again, and the celebration began as McCallie won arguably the single biggest matchup in the history of their long-standing, historic rivalry with Baylor, by a final score of 34-28, earning themselves the title of Division II AAA Tennessee State Champions.