published Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

McCallie Blue Tornado roll into second round

By Greg Carter

McCallie coach Ralph Potter described his team's option offense as "quarterback-centric" Friday night.

Nelson Johnston was the Blue Tornado quarterback operating that offense.

Scoring on three of its first five snaps, McCallie rolled to a 62-20 win over travel-weary St. Benedict in the opening round of the TSSAA Division II playoffs at Spears Stadium.

Johnston had what Potter called a remarkable game a week earlier and followed that up Friday by completing four of his five passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns.

That offensive success is encouraging to Potter.

"We're getting better on that side of the ball," he said. "Our offense is very quarterback-centric, and our quarterback is getting better every week. He's making good decisions and that's the key to making us go. If he can keep that up, I like the direction we're headed."

The immediate direction McCallie is headed is west, toward Nashville and a rematch with top-ranked Ensworth next Friday. The Blue Tornado (5-5, 4-4) lost 47-10 to Ensworth in the second game of the season.

"We've got an opportunity, and that's all you can ask for," Potter said. "Ensworth's the top team in the state and it'll take our best, but if we play hard and execute, we've got an opportunity to go up there and win that game. It'll take everything we've got."

St. Benedict traveled six hours by bus Friday to play this game. It showed.

McCallie's Tyler Payne blocked the Eagles' punt on their opening possession. The next play, Alex Trotter gave McCallie a 7-0 lead. Andrew Busby set McCallie up again on the next series with an interception, and one play later, Samir Usman made it 14-0.

Johnston hit Eric Wolf on a 56-yard TD pass at the 6:16 mark of the first quarter to make it 21-0. The game was out of reach at 35-0 at halftime.

"We won't make any excuses about the trip," St. Benedict coach Mike David said. "Give McCallie all the credit. They came out here ready to play from the start, and we didn't. We got behind and they never let us back in it. That's a good football team and we wish them well next week."

In addition to his interception, Busby scored a touchdown and was the Tornado's defensive star. Trotter finished with 91 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns, as did Payne, who took over for Johnston at QB and rushed for 77 yards and two scores. Wolf caught three passes for 78 yards and two TDs.

McCallie led 55-13 at the end of the third quarter.

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