In an up-and-down season, Lipscomb Academy saved its best for last. That literally saved a playoff berth for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs, who were 1-4 at midseason, blew past Stratford 48-14 Friday night, clinched their 22nd straight playoff appearance and avenged a 21-14 loss last year.
Starting the night in 33rd place and one spot out of a TSSAA Class 4A playoff berth, Lipscomb (5-5) crushed the Spartans in a game it dominated both offensively and defensively, giving them four wins in their final five game. Their point total was their highest of the season.
On senior night, the defense was highlighted by a monster career game by junior defensive back Luke Runion.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Runion picked off two LaQuan Horton passes and ran them back 22 and 48 yards for touchdowns, both within a span of 1:22 late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.
“On both TDs, I started out defensively in much the same way – I faked the blitz, then I just dropped back into coverage. Then I saw the quarterback was coming my way and I was ready for it,” he said.
The Mustangs forced Horton into four interceptions, which also included a diving pick by senior Cortland Daws in the second quarter and another by sophomore Will Temple on Stratford’s final offensive play late in the game.
“Anything I might do is set up by our defensive line, which keeps making a great pass rush and forcing the quarterback to throw a rushed pass,” Runion, who has three inerceptions on the season, said. “It was great way to get into the playoffs, and I can’t wait to get started.”
The defense will be severely tested in the playoff opener. The Mustangs drew powerful top quad seed Giles County (10-0) and star quarterback Al Cobb in their opener Friday in Pulaski.
1-2 PUNCH SPARKS OFFENSE: Just as it has all season, Lipscomb used its 1-2 rushing punch of junior Deandre Tigg and senior Gabe Glimps. Together they accounted for all five offensive scores.
Tigg rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns, and Glimps, the nephew of former Cohn High basketball star Reggie Glimps, added 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Lipscomb might have two 1,000-yard rushers, as Tigg upped his total to 956 for the season, while Glimps is at 745. Tigg has14 touchdowns, Glimps 12.
“They give us good balance as Glimps gives us a power type of runner, and Tigg gives us more of a threat outside,” coach Glenn McCadams said. “They’ve both been very dependable all season.
“We started out pretty slowly, but lately, we’ve been playing very well, and that’s what you want to see as your team enters the playoffs. We played poorly and had some bad breaks and things that went against us early on, but we hung tough.”
For Stratford, it was an all-or-nothing game.
A win would have clinched a playoff berth. The Spartans would have finished second (behind Christ Pesbyterian Academy) in the district after tiebreakers, and the top two qualify.
The loss ended their season at 3-7. Along the way they upset Maplewood 17-14.
Coach Aaron Pitts leave the team in July. Brian Harrell replaced him and tried to keep things together.
Horton ended his senior season with 1,374 yards passing and nine touchdowns. His final touchdown pass came in the first quarter, a 12-yard strike to Kenneth Jones.
• Hillsboro’s 28-21 overtime win over Centennial landed the Burros in the Class 5A playoffs for the first time since 2009. It kept Hillsboro (6-4) in town for a first-round matchup at Antioch (6-4).
• Cane Ridge (8-2), which knocked off neighborhood rival Antioch for the first time 34-14 Friday, got a very tough 6A home matchup with Riverdale (7-3).
• Brentwood High (9-1) landed a home game against Wilson Central (8-2).
• McGavock (5-5) squeezed into the 6A playoffs with a win at Hillwood and will travel to 9-1 Dickson County.
ª Overton (6-4), qualifying as a No. 6 seed, visits Arlington.
• Christ Presbyterian (10-0), the No. 3 ranked team (AP) in Class 3A, will a stage a rematch of an opening week 14-7 win over Goodpasture (5-5). This time, the game will be at CPA.
• Maplewood (6-4) got a first-round Class 4A home game against Crockett County (6-4).
• Nashville Christian School (8-2) finally was able to beat nemesis Jo Byrns, an exciting 28-27 victory. That clinched a Class 1A home game against McEwen in a district rematch. If the Eagles win, they will rematch the next week at Clarksville Academy.
• In the DII-AA opening round, rivals Father Ryan and Montgomery Bell Academy will rematch at MBA on Friday.
• Soccer: Christ Presbyterian Academy returned to the Class A/AA state tournament with a 7-0 shutout romp over Giles County Saturday behind Micki Dye’s hat trick.
In AAA, Brentwood High toppled Hendersonville 3-1 on overtime goals by Meg Howard and Mary Stewart Schwartz and Clarksville upended Franklin 2-1, ending the Rebels hope of another trip to state.
In DII-AA, Harpeth Hall thumped Briarcrest 3-1, and Father Ryan beat Briarcrest 3-1 to claim state tourney berths.
In DII-A, Franklin Road Academy returned to state with a 3-0 shutout win over St. Mary’s, and University School of Nashville edged Evangelical Christian 1-0 on Whitley Cargile’s goal.
• Volleyball: Senior Mary Marshall Anderson had 15 kills and four blocks and was named tourney MVP as St. Cecilia won the school’s first team championship in any sport. The Scarabs won the Division II-A championship over Knoxville Webb at Middle Tennessee State on Friday. Setter Amy Bray 41 assists.
Runnerup twice before, Goodpasture beat Christian Academy of Knoxville in four games in the Class AA final. Front row hitter Katelyn Atkinson had 11 kills and three aces and was tourney MVP.
Ravenwood rallied from two games down to beat Brentwood High in five games, their second win over the Bruins in the Class AAA tourney to win their third straight crown.
St. Agnes beat Harpeth Hall in the DII-AA final.