By Craig Harris for The Tennessean
“We have so much experience,” Firebird junior wide receiver Rontavius Groves said. “We trust each other to make plays and do what we’re supposed to do at the right time.”
Pearl-Cohn will face No. 2 seed Trezevant, which captured a 20-17 win over top-seeded and previously unbeaten Crockett County on Friday, in next week’s semifinal round.
The Firebirds have scored 142 points over the last two weeks, including a 63-7 win over Spring Hill in the second round.
“A lot of other kids are stepping where Ke’shawn (Vaughn, the team’s senior tailback) doesn’t have to carry the load any more,” Pearl-Cohn coach Tony Brunetti said. “Groves, Jimmy (Ferrell) and Mario Gordon are stepping up and making big plays.”
The Firebirds (11-2) scored on their first 10 possessions before failing on their 11th and final offensive series.
Groves caught seven passes for 251 yards, including touchdowns of 36, 41, 58 and 72 yards. He has scholarship offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Purdue.
“He’s phenomenal,” Brunetti said. “He’s a big-time playmaker. He makes big-time plays, and Jimmy is throwing the ball perfect.”
Ferrell completed all 15 of his pass attempts for 391 yards and five touchdowns, and Vaughn rushed for 170 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries.
“He was perfect,” Groves said of Ferrell. “That’s it … it was perfect. He kept his eyes downfield.”
Pearl-Cohn scored the first 28 points and led 55-21 at halftime as Gordon caught a 21-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the half.
The Blue Devils (8-5) didn’t get any closer than 21 points after falling into the 28-point deficit.
White House junior tailback Trey Hyde rushed for 101 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries.
“They’ve really kicked it into gear the last couple of weeks,” Blue Devil coach Jeff Porter said of the Firebirds. “Hats off and credit to them.”