published Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Zach Miller-led Polk County edges Bradley Central

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    Polk County's Zach Miller.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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BENTON, Tenn. -- There were a number of times Friday night that Polk County football coach Derrick Davis could be seen poking his head into Wildcats offensive huddles on the sideline, lending advice.

The message was simple: "Give it to Miller." And his team obliged.

Big back Zach Miller ran 34 times for 177 yards and scored three touchdowns, and the Wildcats stuffed Bradley Central on a tying two-point-conversion attempt with no time left to defeat the Bears 29-27 in front of an announced crowd of 4,352 at Polk County.

It was Polk's first win in the series since 2008.

Miller ran for two TDs and caught a pass for another. He also completed a 10-yard pass on fourth down in the second quarter and had four punts for an almost 32-yard average.

"I'm a little tired," a smiling Miller said. "We try to keep teams honest. I don't think that Bradley was expecting me to throw the ball, because there was nobody around our guy.

"I'm very excited because we haven't beat Bradley in five years. We were talking about how we were going to be remembered this season. This is a good start for us."

He scored on a 6-yard run on the game's first possession, then capped a 17-play, 81-yard drive by catching a 3-yard pass from Josh Silas. That drive took 9 minutes and 11 seconds.

The Wildcats had the ball for 16:36 of the first half, limiting Bradley to four possessions and 48 yards of total offense.

"We just couldn't get the ball from them in the first half," Bears coach Damon Floyd said.

Bradley quickly tied the game in the second half, with quarterback Brett Standifer completing touchdown passes of 6 yards to Tyler Carpenter and 44 yards to Cal Pickel. Two three-and-outs by the Wildcats gave the visitors a chance to take the lead, but Standifer threw a pass that was intercepted by Devin Weber. Polk capitalized by scoring on its next two possessions, with Miller and Silas making short touchdown runs.

The Bears cut the lead to two on two Crisp touchdown catches, the latter with no time left on the clock. A final conversion attempt to tie the game fell well short, with Logan Fetzner being stopped at the 2-yard line.

"As a coach, you don't like it to be that hard," Davis said. "The teams are pretty familiar with each other, and Bradley knows what we're going to do. A win like tonight will do a lot for this year: It'll give us a kick-start for the rest of the season."

Standifer completed 13 of 21 passes for 201 yards and four scores, with Pickel catching four for 96 and Crisp scoring on two of his three receptions, totaling 36 yards.

"We just couldn't find a scheme to stop Miller," Floyd said. "We couldn't tackle him, and he physically beat us up. As the head coach, that falls on me."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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