PIKEVILLE, Tenn. -- For the first time since 1995, Bledsoe County has a 10-win season.
The Warriors secured No. 10 Friday with a 44-25 victory over visiting Meigs County in the first round of the TSSAA Class 3A playoffs.
The Warriors also broke a six-game postseason losing streak, nailing down their first playoff win since 1998 when they beat Smith County. They'll host Alcoa, a 17-7 winner over Tyner, next week.
"Ten wins is well and good, but I don't want to take the focus off what we want, and that's a run in the playoffs," Warriors coach Jason Reel said. "It's an exciting opportunity to have a team of Alcoa's stature coming to our place."
Bledsoe also came within a point of its largest postseason margin of victory. Its best remains 20 points in a 1986 shutout win against York Institute.
The loss was the first for Meigs against Bledsoe in the postseason, the Tigers having held a 2-0 advantage.
"Meigs came to play. They're game and they're big and the running backs -- I can't say enough about how hard those kids run," Reel said.
Bledsoe threatened to make it a runaway, bolting to a 25-0 advantage midway of the second quarter, but Meigs blunted the idea of a runaway with two scores.
The Tigers cut the Warriors' lead to six 50 seconds into the final period on Travis Savage's second TD of the night, but Bledsoe rallied with Brandon Smith's second touchdown and a game-icing run by quarterback Cody Holloway with 4:18 left.
Picked off twice, Holloway was very effective early, throwing two TD passes to Jeremiah Gilbert and another to Caleb Smith. He finished 13-of-20 with 162 passing yards and another 53 rushing, which doubled his season total.
Brandon Smith had 16 carries for 121 yards and another 38 on four receptions. Holden Boynton added 92 rushing yards.
Savage finished with 108 yards on 22 carries to lead Meigs.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...