The Bears believed, and they reaped the rewards of their faith.
Tellico Plains traveled to Polk County on Friday, Sept. 20, staging a two-touchdown comeback and pulling off a clutch trick play to defeat the Wildcats, 22-14. The win moved the Bears to above .500 on the season, their first under new head coach Jon Rechtorovic.
“It was a great team effort,” Rechtorovic said. “The boys played their hearts out. I am so proud of them.”
Sophomore Major Carter kicked things off for Tellico Plains by grabbing an interception, but Tellico turned the ball over soon after by throwing a pick of its own. The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie.
Polk County scored first in the second period, then took a 14-0 lead on a pick-six to put the Bears behind by two touchdowns at halftime.
But Carter struck again for the Bears in the third quarter, catching a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Reid Shaw, then finding himself on the receiving end of another Shaw pass for the two-point conversion, making good on an eight-point scoring stint.
Polk County still led 14-8 at the start of the fourth quarter.
But Shaw connected with Carter again for another touchdown pass with 4:31 remaining in the game, tying the game late. Tellico failed on its two-point conversion attempt, keeping the score knotted at 14-14.
The Wildcats drove the ball to Tellico’s 25-yard line in the game’s waning minutes, but the Bears’ defense forced and recovered a Polk County fumble to regain possession.
On arguably the play of the game, Carter hauled in a 50-yard pass from freshman Landon Hollinghead on a double-reverse. A personal foul penalty added on put the Bears in scoring position, and a screen pass and another penalty, this one a facemask call, gave Tellico the ball with less than 15 yards to the end zone.
After a Shaw scramble, senior Levi Roberts ran the ball in from seven yards out to score, with Carter catching another two-point conversion pass to give the Bears a 22-14 lead with just 22 seconds remaining in the game.
The Bears put the finishing touch on the win with a Roberts recovery of a pooch kickoff, allowing them to run out the clock and notch the region victory.
“They just kept fighting and believing in each other,” Rechtorovic said.
The Bears will play at Midway on Friday, Sept. 27. The Green Wave are 3-1 on the season, having defeated Wartburg 27-26 in their latest contest.
As the season wears on, Tellico (3-2) will look to continue its strong start, despite a string of injuries, including one that has sidelined senior quarterback Dale Rinehart.
The Bears now have more wins than they did all last year, a 2-8 campaign.
“We are just excited for the next opportunity to play and find a way to get better each day,” Rechtorovic said.