Meltdown: D-B Upset By South; Science Hill Moves On To Finals
Miller kicked home the go-ahead goal in the 63rd minuted of play and the South defenders did the rest, holding on for a 2-1 victory in the District I-AAA semifinals.
The loss ended the season for regular-season champion Dobyns-Bennett, which finished 15-2-3, and put South not only into next week's Region I-AAA tournament but gave the Rebels their first victory over D-B in a post-season game since 1997. The Rebels had last advanced to the Region I tournament in 2006.
South will meet Science Hill, a 2-1 winner over feisty Sullivan Central in the other semifinal game. The Hilltoppers (12-7-1) went up 2-0 in the first half, but survived a comeback bid that saw Central get a goal by Kenneth Long off an assist from Brent Baker in the 74th minute of play. Bennett Becker then had a chance to tie the gaem in the final two minutes, but his free kick sailed just over the net.
"He makes that kick nine times out of ten,'' said Central coach Eric Freeman. "But he just happened to miss is tonight.''
Miller's goal didn't miss and Miller knew it when he hit it.
"I knew it was coming to me,'' said Miller. "I knew I had a shot, so I just went ahead and took it. I'm a senior and I didn't want my season to end in this game. It's definitely the biggest goal of my career and my only goal this year. I'm just happy it went in.''
"He's one of our seniors and he's solid,'' said South coach Malora Quisenberry. "But he's been out of the spotlight. He's been content to lay the ball off, usually.''
Added Quisenberry, whose team is now 12-6-2: "I knew we had the potential. We worked hard. This is always a big rivalry and the adrenaline had something to do with it. After they made their kick, we didn't get back on our heels. We kept attacking and that's what we needed to do.''
"South has a wonderful team,'' said D-B coach Shane Calvert. "They played a great game. I hate it was against us, but they deserved it.
"They have a good coach and they have talent up and down their roster. They are a very good team that has been playing its best soccer at the end of the season and that's what you have to do.''
D-B ended its season with its only two losses after a 15-0-3 start that had the Indians up to No. 5 in the state. In their final regular-season game, they went to Knoxville and lost to Bearden, 7-1.
There may have been some confidende erosion after that loss, but Calvert said his team was ready for this game; it just didn't put things together.
"We didn't play with any consistency and we were never able to get anything going,'' said Calvert, whose only goal came during a scrum when senior Mitch Gardner first fell down, then pulled himself back up and booted the ball into the goal in the midst of a group of South players.
That tied the game at 1-1 in the 17th minute of play in the first half. South had earlier scored when Adam Griffith was awarded a penalty kick inside the box in the seventh minute of play.
The first time the teams met, D-B scored first on a penalty kick and added an insurance goal late in the contest to win, 2-0.
That loss gave South confidence it could win the next meeting.
"They didn't score out of their regular offense that first time, so we knew we had a chance,'' said all-time leading South scorer Josh Wood, who has booted 59 goals for his career. "We knew it was going to be really, really hard; they weren't going to give us anything. But we came out and played hard.''
"We knew we had to change up our defense,'' said Quisenberry, "because their attack is very threatening.''
Griffith said the plan was to keep somebody on D-B all-time single-season scorer David Geno at all times.
"We switched off and marked him,'' said Griffith, a two-time all-conference defensive player.
"Once they got that last goal,'' said Calvert, "they dropped five players back and forced us wide. We weren't able to score in that situation and that was the difference in the game ... Nothing we tried worked.''
Central got a goal from Kenneth Long in the 74th minute, but couldn't complete the comeback.
"We took it about as far as we could go,'' said Freeman. "To go 13 and 6 is not bad. The boys played well.''
"It is a shame I missed that,'' said Becker, who set a school record with 34 goals this season and returns next year. "I got it just a little bit high. But I did what I could do.''
Central had to play the final 47 minutes with Amos Muncie, who got red-carded and was later escorted out of the stadium at the officials' request. For a while, it appeared both Muncie and Brent Baker were kicked out of the game, but the officials huddled on Baker and took away the second yellow card -- allowing him to remain in the game.
"I went and talked to them about it and I think I was a little too assertive,'' said Baker. "But they changed their mind and left me play and we were able to sub (for Muncie).
"My team is very young, but it has been playing better,'' said Science Hill coach Brian Okumu, whose team has now won seven of its last nine game after a 5-5-1 start. "I think after we scored those two goals, we relaxed. We had five, six, or seven good chances after that and if we make one of those, it is a different game.''
Johnny Campbell booted home the first goal in the fifth minute on a free kick, while Jay Lauderback scored in the 13th minute off a Campbell assist.
A goal in the first minute of the second half was disallowed and Science Hill didn't score again.
In Knoxville, Bearden was upset by Maryville, 2-1, while Knox Farragut won its semifinal, 2-0, over Lenoir City.
Here is scoring for the two semifinal games Wednesday at Memorial Stadium and Steve Spurrier Field:
Sullivan South 2, Dobyns-Bennett 1
Sullivan South: Adam Griffith, penalty kick, seventh minute.
Dobyns-Bennett: Mitch Garder, no assist, 17th minute.
Sullivan South: Jotham Miller, Jordan Willingham assist, 63rd minute
Science Hill 2, Sullivan Central 1
SH: Johnny Campbell, free kick, fifth minute.
SH: Jay Lauderback, Johnny Campbell assist, 13th minutes.
SC: Kenneth Long, assist Brent Baker, 74th minute.
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