No. 3 Trojans cruise to first-round win

Saturday, November 3, 2018
Above, Dyersburg running back Brandon Miller goes through a spin move away from a Memphis East defender during the Trojans’ win on Friday night.
State Gazette photos/Jason Peevyhouse


With the third-ranked and undefeated Dyersburg Trojans heavily favored going into Friday night’s Class 4A first-round matchup with winless Memphis East, the black and Vegas gold showed those factors didn’t go to their head as they jumped out to a six-touchdown lead in the first quarter on the way to a 63-0 win at J.C. Sawyers Stadium.

“We were excited about the opportunity to play at home and we worked on our execution this whole week,” Dyersburg head coach Bart Stowe said. “The guys came out and did a good job.”

With only one turnover by the Trojan starters throughout the lopsided win, the Trojans’ play during the victory gives Dyersburg some momentum heading into the next round where they will face Crockett County (6-5) for the second time in three weeks. The Cavaliers defeated Craigmont on the road Friday night, 48-12, to earn the rematch with the Trojans.

In fact, the first round this season was nearly identical to 2017 as all four Region 7-4A teams were victorious on Friday night. Haywood defeated Fayette Ware 35-0 while Ripley beat Millington 31-21. The win for the Tigers was their first playoff win since 2010.

“This time of the year, it’s about controlling your mistakes,” Stowe said. “The team that makes the least amount of mistakes usually wins.

“We don’t need to make mistakes.”

Trojan defender Tyler Lee wraps up the Mustang quarterback.

The win moves the Trojans’ record to 11-0 for the first time since 1997 and is the team’s first shutout since Sept. 8, 2017 (43-0 win over Millington).

“I’m really proud of our defense,” Stowe said. “A shutout any night is outstanding.

“I am real proud of them. The defense really stepped up tonight and set us up on offense.”

The defense, in fact, scored three times in the first half (two interception returns as well as a fumble run back for a score).

“It’s like I have said before – our guys play off each other and play off each team’s momentum,” the Trojan head coach said. “When defense plays good, offense plays good.

“When special teams play good, defense and offense plays good. All of us working together as a team.”

The Trojans showed that early on as Dyersburg drove down the field after the opening kickoff quickly before scoring on a five-yard run by Israel Barbee. The extra point put the Trojans on top 7-0 with 9:09 left in the first frame.

Dyersburg didn’t give the Mustangs much of a chance to do anything on offense as, on the second play of the ensuing drive, Marshun Briggs snagged an errant Memphis East pass at the 30-yard line.

Within a minute of that defensive play, Brandon Miller capped the second Trojan scoring drive with a five-yard run. The extra point extended the Dyersburg lead to 14-0 with 8:02 left in the frame.

Dyersburg receiver Mershun Briggs hauls in a touchdown catch during the Trojans’ win over Memphis East.

The Trojans struck by the air on the next scoring drive, capping it with a nine-yard pass from Preston Seyl to Briggs. The PAT pushed Dyersburg’s lead to 21-0 with 4:04 left in the frame.

It was the defense’s turn to make a big play as Antonio Quinn picked off another errant pass and returned it 28 yards for the score. The extra point pushed the lead to 28-0 with 3:42 left in the opening quarter.

Though the next Dyersburg drive ended in an interception itself, the Trojan defense got it right back as Barbee picked off the Mustang quarterback and returned the ball down the home sideline 20 yards to the end zone. The extra point made it 35-0.

A bad snap early in the next Mustang drive resulted in a third defensive touchdown for the Trojans as Tyler Lee scooped up the loose ball and took it 13 yards for the touchdown as the PAT pushed the advantage to 42-0 with 1:31 left in the first quarter.

Dyersburg tacked on two more scores in the second frame – a 13-yard Miller run and a 22-yard scamper by Amari Cox – to go up 56-0 at the half.

With the clock running with the mercy rule and the quarters shortened to eight minutes, the Trojans added a 12-yard Kenny Howard touchdown in the third quarter as the extra point put the Trojans up 63-0.

Dyersburg running back Daniel Gates (8) gets a key block from teammate C.J. Currie (50) during the Trojans’ win over Memphis East in the first round of the Class 4A Playoffs on Friday night.

With the win, the Trojans head into the second round of the Class 4A playoffs where they will host Crockett County in a rematch not only of Week 11’s game this season, but of last season’s second-round game which saw the Cavaliers end Dyersburg’s season in 2017 in Alamo.

“We kind of figured that was going to happen,” Stowe said of meeting Crockett County in the second round. “It is what it is.

“In the playoffs, you’ve gotta play people as they come at you. Crockett County is a very good program. They’re always in the playoffs and it’s somebody we’ve got to contend with. We get to play them here next Friday night.”

On the ground, the Trojans dominated things, carrying the ball 23 times for 308 yards. Barbee led things with six carries for 80 yards. With a truly balanced running attack, the next highest rusher for the Trojans was Quinn with two carries for 37 yards.

On the other side of things, Dyersburg limited Memphis East to no gain in 15 carries. In fact, the Mustangs only had 76 yards in passing during the loss.

“It was a great night and we love playing at home,” Stowe said. “We had a great home crowd.

“Can’t wait until next Friday night. We’re going to enjoy this then start working on our next opponent.”

Kickoff for the second round of the TSSAA Class 4A playoffs is set for 7 p.m. on Friday night.

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