Although Montgomery Bell Academy, the state runner-up last year in TSSAA Division II-AAA, had struggled to win games during the first half of this season, the losses had been by narrow margins.
Until Friday night.
MBA's four losses coming into its DII-AAA East Region game at McCallie had come by an average of just 10 points, but the top-ranked Blue Tornado put the visitors away early on the way to a convincing 35-0 win.
Senior quarterback Jay St-Hilaire threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 51 yards, Enrique Jaimes-Leclair caught eight passes for 153 yards and two scores, and Ja'Von McMahan ran for 45 yards and a touchdown as McCallie outgained MBA 439-124 in total yards.
The Blue Tornado (6-0, 2-0) began the game with an 85-yard drive capped by McMahan's 6-yard touchdown run. Linebacker and leading tackler Bear Cortes returned a fumble 33 yards for a score later in the first quarter, and St-Hilaire gave his team a 21-0 halftime lead with a 10-yard scoring toss to Jaimes-Leclair.
The hosts put the game way with a 96-yard touchdown drive to open the second half, with Keylan Syam finishing it with a 1-yard run.
"I'm loving that," McCallie coach Ralph Potter said of the long scoring drives to begin both halves.
MBA (1-5) was playing its region opener.
The Blue Tornado, who entered Friday off back-to-back road wins, will continue region play by hosting second-ranked Baylor next week in the annual matchup of Chattanooga rivals.
"Our guys have been focused every game, every time out, and really are enjoying every opportunity," Potter said. "We talked a lot about this before the season, with this stretch of games. Our guys did a really great job tonight."
Baylor 31, Brentwood Academy 24: After building a 24-7 lead at halftime, the Red Raiders needed big fourth-quarter plays to hold on for the DII-AAA East win. Junior running back Shekai Mills-Knight ran for three touchdowns, including a 4-yarder with 5:50 remaining that proved to be the winner after the Eagles had rallied to tie.
The Red Raiders (5-1, 2-0) got a late defensive stop, holding the Eagles (1-5, 0-2) on fourth down inside the Baylor 20.
Hixson 42, Soddy-Daisy 14: The Wildcats never trailed on the way to their fourth straight win and third in Region 3-4A. Hixson (4-2, 3-0) built a 21-7 first-half lead, then put the game away by scoring 21 unanswered points after the Trojans had pulled within seven late in the second quarter.
Koko Kendricks ran 22 times for 133 yards two touchdowns for Hixson, and Chase Barnard was 9-of-12 passing for 163 yards with Tariq Reese catching six for 121 yards and two scores.
Gage Welch led the Trojans (2-4, 1-2) with 118 yards on 19 carries, and Corbin York added 78 yards on the ground.
South Pittsburg 62, North Jackson 0: Class 1A's top-ranked Pirates (6-0) scored on seven of their 15 second-half snaps and dominated defensively throughout, holding Alabama's 4A Chiefs to minus-10 rushing yards on 32 carries and just 1-of-13 on third-down conversions.
Kamden Wellington threw for 141 yards and three scores, with 130 of that total and two touchdowns going to RaCash Kelly. Freshman Ky'Saun Powell ran eight times for 117 yards and two touchdowns, AJ Wallace added 50 rushing yard and a score, and the Pirates outgained North Jackson 416-67 in total yards.
Signal Mountain 55, Lookout Valley 13: Garrett Wilson, making his third start at quarterback, accounted for four touchdowns, throwing for two to Blake Wolfard in the first quarter. Bo Cooper, Ben Dotson and Riley Edmundson all scored their first varsity touchdowns for the Eagles (3-3), and Jack Perry also had a touchdown.
For the Yellow Jackets (0-6), Dayon Cooper returned a kickoff 85 yards for one touchdown and scored another on a 64-yard run.
Silverdale Baptist 40, Notre Dame 20: The Seahawks earned their first win of the season with an impressive showing on both sides of the ball in a Division II-AA East matchup. Landon Deitch rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and Connor Jenne added 74 rushing yards and a score for Silverdale Baptist (1-5, 1-3), which was led on defense by Nate Hampton's five solo tackles and an interception.
E.J. Carter ran for 141 yards and a touchdown to lead the Fighting Irish (1-5, 0-4), and Cooper Campbell threw for 158 and a score.
Tyner 28, Sweetwater 22: The Rams held on for their third consecutive win to start Region 3-3A play, improving to 3-3 overall.
McMinn County 57, Ooltewah 7: The Cherokees averaged 13.2 yards per carry while rushing for 354 yards for the Region 4-5A win. McMinn County improved to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the region, while the Owls fell to 1-5, 0-2.
East Hamilton 49, Howard 28: Kireese Willis had a long touchdown catch on a flea-flicker as the Hurricanes rallied for the Region 4-5A win after trailing 14-7 early. East Hamilton improved to 4-2, 1-1, while the Hustlin' Tigers fell to 1-4, 0-2.
East Ridge 35, Chattanooga Prep 14: The Pioneers earned their first win of the season in the nonregion matchup, improving to 1-5 overall, while the Sentinels fell to 2-4.
Whitwell 54, Copper Basin 18: Class 1A's sixth-ranked Tigers remained unbeaten with another impressive Region 3-1A win. In improving to 6-0 overall, Whitwell has outscored its three league foes by an average of 43-11. Copper Basin fell to 1-4, 0-3.
Marion County 30, Brainerd 12: The Warriors, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, stepped outside the region and remained unbeaten through five games with their fourth win over an opponent from a larger classification, while 3A's Panthers fell to 1-4.
Tilton Pickett threw for 114 yards and three touchdowns, Sam Pickett had 101 total yards and Brody Leonard led Marion with 85 rushing yards. Sophomore Ashton Martin had three tackles for loss and two sacks for the Warriors on defense.
Grace Academy 48, Zion Christian 22: The Golden Eagles pulled away with a 28-0 second half as Clayton Gunther threw for 174 yards and a touchdown, with 124 of those yards going to Brock Passons. Andrew Huggins led the Grace Academy defense with six solo tackles, including two for loss.
Other area scores:
Bledsoe County 42, Tellico Plains 7
Meigs County 34, Central 6
Sale Creek 37, Grundy County 6
Sequatchie County 31, Coalfield 14
Contact Stephen Hargis at [email protected].