Tipton-Rosemark head coach Collin Pinner was a little concerned how his team would play last Friday in Jackson against Trinity Christian Academy.
The Rebels had never beaten TCA, were coming off three straight losses and needed a win badly to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Turns out there was nothing to worry about.
Senior Mac Fullen moved from tailback to fullback because of an injury to Zak Vinson and the result was dramatic. Fullen rushed 22 times for 427 yards, the most in the Shelby-Metro area this season and 51 away from the all-time record, to lead the Rebels (4-3 overall, 2-3 DII-A-West) to a 61-38 league victory.
A month ago, TCA (2-4, 1-3) lost by just three points to University School of Jackson, a team that beat TRA 30-7 in Week 4. On paper, the Rebels were the underdog.
“Everybody else thought that, too,” Pinner said, “but after watching film (the week before the game) I thought we had a good shot.”
TCA running back Kevin Davis ran 48 yards for a touchdown with 11:00 left in the second quarter to trim TRA’s lead to 28-14, but it was all Rebels after that.
Fullen reeled off touchdown runs of 61 and 80 yards in the final five minutes of the second quarter to give the Rebels a 41-17 halftime lead.
Will Allen Smith had a pick-six early in the third to push the lead to 47-17, J.T. May scored on a short run and Fullen scored his fifth touchdown on a 14-yard run late in the fourth.
Incredibly, it was not a career-high for Fullen, who averaged a gaudy 19.4 yards per carry in the game. When he was a freshman he rushed for 435 against Rossville Christian. He had not played fullback since that season.
“He hits the hole so hard,” Pinner said about Fullen, who had scoring runs of 33 and 81 yards in the first quarter. “It’s fun to watch.”
Rosemark’s offense finished with 655 yards and averaged 11 yards per rush. Tyler Byrd rushed for 125 and Payne Fullen threw for 71 more.
The Rebels now turn their attention to Friday’s league game at home against Clarksville Academy. A win there will clinch a playoff berth. If TRA can beat Columbia Academy the following week, the Rebels will be a fifth seed in the state playoffs. The top six teams in DII-A-West make the postseason.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead,” said Pinner, “but it’s a whole lot easier path through the playoffs as a five seed.”
Rosemark won its first three games of the season before losing to USJ, Fayette Academy and Davidson Academy, all of which are ranked in the state’s top five. Pinner said his players remained confident despite the losing streak.
“I think our kids believed. They worked really hard and had a good mindset. They responded well.”