After its opening drive in Friday's high school football game at Boyd-Buchanan that ended with a touchdown, Maplewood had a difficult time getting its running game going against the Buccaneers. Panthers coach Arcentae Broom credited their defense for doing a good job, especially on the edges.
Cortez Adams led Maplewood with 60 yards on the ground, but the one time the Panthers really got him out in space was when he intercepted a pass halfway through the fourth quarter. At that time the outcome was still in the balance, but his 83-yard return for a touchdown changed all that and helped the Panthers win 26-16.
Maplewood finishes its season 6-4 and now must wait and see its fate regarding the Class 4A state playoffs. Class 2A's No. 1-ranked Boyd-Buchanan suffered its first loss in nine games but could still win the District 5-A title by defeating Copper Basin next week.
"We were probably a little bit too high from last week," Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds said in reference to a defeat of 1A power South Pittsburg. "And we may have been looking ahead a little. I didn't have us ready. We weren't ready to play. I guess when that happens, you're going to make mistakes."
The Bucs had a fourth-and-3 at Maplewood's 16 when the third quarter ended. Reynolds chose to let freshman Jake Harden try a 34-yard field goal, which he made that pulled them within 18-10.
Boyd-Buchanan forced a punt and drove to the Panthers' 31, where on first down Adams intercepted a Jim Carden pass and weaved his way to the goal line.
"He got a little space there," Broome said. "We expected a hard-nosed football game. I don't care if they're 2A -- a good football team is a good football team. We needed six wins to give ourselves a good chance to get in the playoffs. Will we land? We're not sure."
Carden had a 5-yard run for Boyd-Buchanan's first touchdown and Cameron Pope scored from the 2 with 3:06 left, but the Bucs couldn't convert the two-point coversion or the onside kick afterward. Rance Harden finished with 20 carries for 94 yards and was in on 11.5 tackles.
DaRonta Nelson capped Maplewood's 10-play, 64-yard drive to start with a 3-yard run. Its other touchdowns were a 90-yard bomb from Laddarius Wimberly to Ladarius Malone and a Wimberly-to-David Wilson 13-yarder.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.