It didn't take long for Soddy Daisy football coach Justin Barnes to get his first win as the Trojan head man.
Facing the Hixson Wildcats at Hixson Community Stadium on Saturday night after Friday's game was postponed, the Trojans had a slow start, but a fast finish and the result was a 25-7 victory in the non-district game.
Perhaps the best news of the evening was that it didn't rain...at least, not during the game. There were black clouds surrounding the stadium at the half, but there was a nice patch of blue sky right above the field.
The timing was right as a light rain began to fall within minutes of the game's end.
"I knew all along that we could play this way and I've been preaching that all summer," Barnes said after getting his proverbial ice-water bath from his players as the final seconds ticked off.
"These seniors have been through the ringer, but what we've been teaching is true. I felt good at the half as we trailed by seven, but I felt like they had given us their best shot and it was our game to win in the second half.
"We came down here tonight focused and ready to play football. I couldn't be any more proud of a football team than I am right now," Barnes said before addressing his players at midfield.
Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald wasn't a very happy fellow afterward. He wasn't in a mood to talk as he tried to get his players to the Wildcat weight room for their post-game chat.
"We've been telling them all year that this was going to happen, but I guess we thought that we could just show up and win the game. Maybe this game will get their attention. We won the first half and I told them we had to win the second, but obviously, we didn't," he nodded.
Hixson took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 14 plays for the first touchdown of the game.
Quarterback Gill Brown hooked up with Kedrick Bradley for the TD from the five and Luke White's extra point boot made it 7-0 with 4:50 to play in the opening stanza.
Hixson was content to keep the ball on the ground in that drive, but the key play was a completion from Brown to Allen Diaz across the middle on fourth-and-8 from the 23 that moved the ball down to the Soddy Daisy 10.
Bradley picked up five yards on back-to-back carries before catching the TD pass.
Soddy Daisy didn't generate much offense in the first half, but the Trojans only had a dozen offensive plays. Following a nice kickoff return by C.J. Blue that gave Soddy Daisy first down at their own 46, the Trojans got to the Hixson 20 before a field goal attempt came up short.
Hixson's lead stood as the teams went to their respective dressing rooms at intermission.
Soddy Daisy took the opening kickoff in the third quarter and went three and out, but the Trojans never punted again as they scored touchdowns on their next four possessions.
Perhaps the biggest one came with 3:49 to play when sophomore Hunter Maynor found a wide open Levi Thornton for a pass play that covered 85 yards. Maynor had a Hixson defender wrapped around his legs, but somehow he fired the ball downfield and Thornton did the rest.
Christian Dean's PAT knotted the score, but the momentum had clearly shifted to the Soddy Daisy side.
Tyler Hixson covered a bad snap for Soddy Daisy on Hixson's third play and the Trojans were in business once more at the Wildcat 6.
Caleb Jordan plowed off left tackle into the end zone and the Trojans lead was 13-7 with 2:29 left in the third stanza.
Maynor was the master in Soddy Daisy's next drive following another Hixson punt.
An option pass from Caleb Watson was right on the money to Tre Carter as the play picked up 29 yards, moving the ball from the 45 down to the 16.
A holding call against Soddy Daisy moved the ball back to the 32 where Maynor completed three straight passes, eight yards to Watson, 15 more to Carter and a nine-yard TD to Jake Flinn on a critical fourth-and-3 play.
Hixson appeared to have thrown in the white towel at that point as the Wildcats trailed by a dozen points with less than 10 minutes to play.
A three-and-out led to another Hixson punt, which led to Soddy Daisy's fourth second-half touchdown.
It came on a five-yard run by Watson with 4:02 to play.
Maynor finished with 230 passing yards as the sophomore southpaw completed 16 of 20 passes with a couple of TDs.
Thornton was the leading receiver with 117 yards on three catches, including the big one of 85 yards. Carter followed with 73 yards on six catches, many in critical third-and-long situations.
The Trojans finished with 315 total yards after gaining just 56 in the first half. They also finished with 11 first downs, including eight in that frantic second half.
Hixson finished with 213 total yards, including 130 on the ground and 83 through the air.
Isiah Robinson was the rushing leader with 61 yards on 13 carries while Bradley added 56 on 14 trips. Bradley was also the leading receiver for the Wildcats with 41 yards on six catches.
Soddy Daisy returns to action with another big non-district game on Thursday night when the Trojans host arch-rival Red Bank. Hixson will be on the road next Friday at South Pittsburg.
Soddy Daisy 0 0 13 12 -- 25
Hixson 7 0 0 0 -- 7
H -- Kedrick Bradley 5 pass from Gill Brown (Luke White kick), 4:50 left in first;
SD -- Levi Thornton 85 pass from Hunter Maynor (Christian Dean kick), 3:49 left in third;
SD -- Caleb Jordan 6 run (kick failed), 2:29 left in third;
SD -- Jake Flinn 9 pass from Maynor (kick failed), 9:46 left in fourth;
SD -- Caleb Watson 5 run (pass failed), 4:02 left in fourth.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)