Reese Phillips evened the odds, but the Signal Mountain quarterback did so by entering a new dimension Friday.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, known for the passing arm that earned him a scholarship offer from Kentucky, showed a little leg in leading the Eagles to a 27-20 victory at Notre Dame.
The win pushed the Eagles above .500 for the first time all season at 4-3 and improved their District 7-AA record to 3-0 with league games remaining against Chattanooga Christian and Sequatchie County.
Phillips had his first 100-yard rushing game, along with 174 passing yards.
"They were stacking the box and we wanted to get an extra body involved," Eagles coach Bill Price said.
Phillips got to three digits on the next-to-last play of the game, picking up the team's 20th first down and ending Notre Dame's last hope of a rally.
"I've been begging [Price] all year to let me run," he said.
"He's a big, physical kid," Price said. "They had a lot of guys in the box and weren't going to let us run, so we decided to try and outnumber them."
The game was pretty much decided already, because Diamez Franklin picked off an Alex Darras pass to give his team the ball back with slightly more than a minute to go.
"He's a good friend and a great person. I'm really proud of him," Phillips said.
"That was a big interception at the end," Price said.
It was the only turnover of the game, which otherwise was marred only by the 200 yards marked off on 20 penalties -- 115 on 10 against the Irish.
Notre Dame (5-2, 2-1) scored first on a 22-yard pass from Darras to Kareem Orr, but Signal rebounded to take a 13-6 halftime lead on 270-pound fullback James McClellan's 2-yard run and a 15-yard pass from Phillips to Harrison Moon.
The Eagles went up 20-6 on Ben Philyaw's 25-yard run, but Notre Dame rallied in the third quarter's final minute on a 44-yard pass from Darras to Nick Chambers.
However, the Eagles extended the lead again less than two minutes later on a 33-yard pass from Phillips to Madison Byrd.
Notre Dame's final score, coming with 6:59 to play, was on a 12-yard run by Auston Banks.
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 ...