Late in the third quarter of Friday night’s DII-A-West game between Tipton-Rosemark and First Assembly Christian School in Memphis, Rebel quarterback Payne Fullen ran out of bounds after an eight-yard gain.
Fullen and a couple of FACS players got into a brief shoving match, FACS was whistled for a 15-yard penalty and fans of both sides booed.
“That’s the only way they’re stopping you, Payne,” TRA coach William Dean yelled from the sideline.
Turns out the coach was correct.
Fullen ran 16 times for 243 yards and all three of Rosemark’s touchdowns to help the Rebels secure a 21-19 league win.
With 3:04 left in the game and Rosemark clinging to a two-point lead, FACS faced a fourth and two at the Rosemark 24-yard line. FACS fumbled on the play and Ellis Fullen, Payne’s cousin, pounced on it to end the scoring threat.
“My first reaction was just to get on it, get on it and secure the game,” Ellis Fullen said.
FACS had two timeouts and still had a chance, but Payne Fullen ripped off runs of 15, 14 and seven yards and FACS never had a chance to stop the clock.
“I just didn’t want to fumble and keep the ball safe,” Payne Fullen said of those last three carries.
Dean, who also serves as the team’s offensive coordinator, said putting the ball in his best player’s hands with the game on the line was a no-brainer.
“I think our offensive line does a good job of setting him up,” Dean said. “To me it’s about putting him in situations where he can be successful. If he gets a little bit of space, he’s off. He has instincts and a toughness you really can’t teach. As long as he’s here we’re going to give him the ball and let him go. Our team goes as he goes.”
The game did not start well for the Rebels when FACS sophomore Brian Shields returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
Rosemark responded quickly, however, driving 77 yards on five plays and tying the score at 7-7 on a 47-yard touchdown run by Fullen. A nine-yard touchdown run by Fullen midway through the second quarter put the Rebels ahead 14-13.
Cole Devitt intercepted a pass for TRA in the end zone just before halftime to preserve the Rebels’ lead.
With 7:02 left in the third quarter, Fullen ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run to put Rosemark ahead 21-13.
FACS found the end zone again with 4:53 left, but the two-point conversion failed, which ended up being the difference in the game.
The Rebels (5-4 overall, 3-3 league), who are off this week, will be the third or fourth seed in next week’s playoffs. Friday’s win should mean Rosemark will have a more favorable first-round playoff matchup, which will be on the road.
“This game was just fun to be a part of,” Dean said. “It was a really good high school football game.”