The stakes couldn’t have been higher with a state championship matchup that featured two longtime rivals.
Against everything that COVID-19 threw their way, both football teams made it to this point in the season and were able to finish it off in Cookeville for a chance at the Blue Cross Bowl's coveted trophy.
It was an exciting that could only end with one team on top. Christ Presbyterian Academy was looking for its ffith title overall, while Lipscomb Academy was looking for its first title since 2007. CPA found a way to get it done as the Lions won 35-28.
“2020 was obviously a year like no other,” said CPA head coach Ingle Martin. “Our goal at the beginning of each year is to take our team and the collection of unique individuals and get the most out of those kids. Today was certainly an example of that. Our kids left everything they had out on that field.”
CPA wanted to erase any memories of the last game with the Mustangs, one the team lost in October, as the Lions got off to a very fast start. They ran the ball for the entire drive and ended it with a Langston Patterson touchdown that took five minutes off the clock.
CPA dominated the majority of the first quarter with its powerful running game.
Lipscomb finally came to life after a keeper by CPA quarterback Cade Law ended with a fumble recovered by Jaden Lyles at the end of the first quarter.
Lipscomb took just 30 seconds to score in the second quarter. Luther Richesson and the Mustangs got down the field and found Daniel Green on a slant route in the end zone to tie the game.
The rest of the scoring of the first half came from Patterson as he found the end zone two more times from the goal line. Patterson, a Mr. Football finalist, finished the game with 194 yards rushing on 34 carries.
“Langston is just one of those kids who is very blessed and gifted,” said Martin. “When the good Lord thought about making a football player, he gave Langston what it takes. He’ll be the first one to tell you that without those guys up front the holes wouldn’t have been there.”
CPA entered halftime up 21-7 with the Mustangs set the receive the kickoff in the second half.
While the first half was all Patterson, the second half was all Alex Broome.
Lipscomb managed to outscore the Lions 21-14 in the second half thanks to his efforts.
The first touchdown for Broome came from where Patterson had much of his success as he ran in untouched from inside the five to make it a seven-point game after a five minute drive.
This was answered by another long CPA drive that was accredited to the attack of Law and Patterson. Law fooled the defense and fought his way for a score on the read option to increase the lead to 14 points once again.
Lipscomb then turned up the tempo and got down the field in a little under a minute. Broome plowed his way into the endzone as the tug of war continued in the box score.
The offensive fireworks cooled off after that as both teams went into the fourth quarter with the Lions up 28-21.
CPA got some clock to run down, but couldn’t get the result it wanted on the next drive and were forced to punt.
The Mustangs would have had the ball inside the 20 if not for a fumbled snap by the punter.
He recovered it and tried to kick the ball away, but it was blocked by the Mustangs as they started with the ball in CPA territory.
Broome soon thereafter finished off his hat trick with a 22-yard screen pass that he took for six. The Mustangs tied up the game at 28 with 9:49 left. He finished the game with 26 yards rushing and 46 yards receiving.
Lipscomb had new life as they had erased the deficit and made it a game again, as the defense began to play with more energy.
It wouldn’t be enough to stop the running game of the Lions. CPA kept everyone guessing as they decided to pass after getting inside the five of Lipscomb Academy.
Law found a wide open Cade Reynolds as Lipscomb Academy sent pressure on the blitz. This would make it 35-28 CPA with 2:31 left in the game as time was beginning to become a factor.
Lipscomb Academy had just two timeouts and under three minutes to tie up the game now.
On the very first play on the next drive, Richesson faced some pressure and the ball was tipped up in the air and intercepted by the Lions near midfield with 2:16 left in the game.
“The difference in our last game was turnovers,” said Martin. “They had us on that one turnover in the first half. I just kept telling our defense just get us one.”
The Mustangs would then be unable to stop the Lions from picking up a first down as CPA would go on to run out the clock.
Other than Broome, another great performance came from LA's Beau Dawson, who had one of his best games of the year. Dawson finished with 110 yards receiving off of seven catches. Dawson has been battling an injury for the majority of the season and this one of his first games close to a 100 percent.
For Lipscomb Academy, while it’s not the result they wanted, head coach and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer has made the Mustangs contenders in just two seasons. In year one as coach, the Mustangs were just one game shy of the state title game.
“We’re just getting started,” said Dilfer. “We’re going to do the same thing. I guess it would be Monday. I’ll be shocked if our guys aren’t in the room Monday just getting after it. I think we’ll be existentially better than we were last year.”
For CPA, this is Martin’s third title since his arrival at CPA in 2011. His previous two were in 2014 and 2018.
Who could have written it better? The Lions and Mustangs face off to close out a different, but exciting 2020 Tennessee High School Football season.
“The 2020 team is done,” said Martin. “I told them before that’s all they have left is four quarters. It’s a really special feeling to know that it’s your last game. We’re going to enjoy this and be really proud of our seniors.”