What goes around comes around.
For Ensworth, Memphis University School comes around in the Division II-AA state championship game. That’s the team the Tigers last saw Aug. 17 in 35-28 victory to open their season.
The teams will arrive in Tennessee Tech in Cookeville three months later, Nov. 29, in a game with a bit more riding on the outcome.
In their respective semifinal wins last Friday, two-time defending champion Ensworth trounced rival Montgomery Bell Academy 35-7, and MUS overcame a 23-0 deficit and dealt Brentwood Academy a heartbreaking 46-45 defeat with a last minute field goal.
It was MUS (10-2) that gave the Tigers (12-0) their closest scare of the season.
The first meeting was tied 14-14 at the half. Corn Elder scored three of his four touchdowns in the third quarter, which gave the Tigers a 35-14 lead. Then they hung on for dear life.
MUS quarterback Jordan Rodgers passed for 385 yards, the most against the Tigers this season, with three touchdowns. MUS outgained Ensworth 387-333.
“We just barely hung on, it was real fight,” coach Ricky Bowers said. “Their quarterback Rodgers is outstanding. He has signed with Tennessee for baseball [as a pitcher]. He is just a great all-around athlete.
“In the last couple of decades, I think MUS has the best football program in the state, and that includes Maryville, any of them. They play the best competition out there, just this year they played the Arkansas state champs. They are consistently good.”
In addition to what promises to be an excellent final, both teams showcase a DII-AA Mr. Football finalist – Elder at Ensworth and Rodgers at MUS.
The Owls’ only other loss was out of state to Olive Branch, Miss., 43-33. They also beat Arkansas power Fayetteville and have won seven straight.
BALANCED EFFORT BEATS MBA: The last time Ensworth lost a playoff game was in 2009 at home. MBA edged the Tigers 27-24 in a game the Big Red trailed 24-7 in the third quarter.
The Tigers haven’t lost to MBA since.
After a five-yard second quarter touchdown by Gary Jackson, Ensworth didn’t allow the MBA offense in the red zone. The closest the Big Red got was the 23.
It was players like backup linebacker D’Andre Ferby who led the defense, making six tackles, recording two sacks and making a big hit on an MBA receiver, setting the tone.
“I found out early in the week that our starting linebacker Patrick Miller was injured and that I would be playing,” Ferby, who is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, said. “I wanted to make the most of my chances. The coaches had me in the right places, and our defense had a great night.”
Elder fumbled on his first two carries (he lost one) but recovered from that ominous start to finish with 284 yards in 25 carries and three touchdowns.
“I had those two fumbles, no reason for that,” he said. “But then things picked up, our offensive line was great again, and we got the win.”
The Tigers got some passing balance as well with junior wide receiver Kiambu Fentress catching touchdown passes of 37 and 50 yards from quarterback Andrew Bowers.
“I’m working with a good group, and Andrew hit me right in stride,” he said. “To be in the state championship once again, it’s great for our team, great for school. To be able to win three in a row would be awesome.”
The last obstacle is no different than the first.
• TSSAA Decisions: The TSSAA will move the girls state soccer tournament from Chattanooga to Murfreesboro, starting next year, it was decided at last Thursday’s Board of Control meeting.
The four tournaments will be held at the Siegel complex for the next four seasons (2013-216), beginning next May. A scheduling conflict in Chattanooga, which had hosted the event since 1997,mandated the move.
Also, the Board voted to hold the state golf tournaments at Willowbrook Course in Manchester through 2016. The club and TSSAA will be able to opt out of the agreement on a yearly basis.
In wrestling, the board approved individual wrestling championships for Class AAA and Class A/AA, starting in 2014.
• Nashville Christian School (11-2) advanced to the TSSAA Class 1A semifinalss for the first time with a wild 35-28 victory at Collinwood. Phillip Booker’s nine-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter was the game-winner.
The Eagles will travel to Huntingdon (11-2) Friday for a chance to get to finals.
• Christ Presbyterian Academy (13-0) looks for some revenge when it hosts Milan (11-2) in the Class 3A semifinalss. Milan derailed the Lions last year 16-14 on a late safety in the same round.
• The Metro Schools athletic department has announced the five finalists for the annual Hume Award in football. They are: Christian Molina (Antioch), Michael Collins (East Nashville), Joseph Occhipinti (Hillsboro), Tracey Bowler (McGavock) and Brandon Orr (Overton).
The winner will be announced at a luncheon Dec. 4 at Bridgestone Arena.
• William Darnell, whose teams went 0-20 in his two seasons, resigned as head coach at Hunters Lane last Friday. No replacement was immediately named.