Cade Ballard accounted for seven touchdowns as Greeneville rolled past Springfield, 54-13, for the TSSAA Class 4A football championship in the Blue Cross Bowl Friday at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium.
The result left Greeneville, the No. 1 team in the state rankings all season, 15-0. It’s the Greene Devils’ third state championship. They also won it in 2010 and 2011.
Ballard, a junior who was announced as the Class 4A Mr. Football earlier in the week, ran for four touchdowns and passed for another three, and he did it in three quarters.
He had some help along the way. Seth Crawford caught two touchdowns and had his school-record 11th and 12th interceptions of the season.
Ballard completed his first eight passes and finished the first half with three touchdown throws and two rushing TDs as the Greene Devils went up 40-7 by halftime. He wound up completing 15 of 18 passes for 218 yards while rushing for 80 yards on 15 carries.
Ballard finished the season with some gaudy stats. He completed 82 percent of his passes and threw for 38 touchdowns while being intercepted only five times. He also ran for 20 touchdowns.
Greeneville stopped Springfield on its first drive when Crawford intercepted a Luke Petitt pass. Five plays and 64 yards later, Crawford caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Ballard for a 7-0 lead.
Springfield’s Kevontay White evened things up midway through the first quarter with a 38-yard touchdown run on an end-around.
Ballard then put the Greene Devils back up 13-7 on a quarterback sneak with 1:50 left in the first quarter. Springfield blocked Eli Sheperd’s extra point attempt, one of two that suffered that fate.
Greeneville’s Dorien Goddard recovered a fumble moments later and Ballard ran another one in, from 13 yards out, for a 20-7 advantage.
Ty Youngblood added a 17-yard touchdown run 31 seconds into the second quarter and the Greene Devils’ were rolling.
Even when the Yellow Jackets stopped Greeneville, it went well for the Greene Devils. Ballard got off a 54-yard punt midway through the second quarter.
Ballard’s second touchdown pass was from 28 yards out to Crawford with 1:44 left in the second quarter. Cameron Hite caught Ballard’s third scoring pass, a 19-yarder on the final play of the second quarter, for a 40-7 halftime lead.
It just kept getting worse for Springfield in the third quarter. After Goddard returned the kickoff to the Springfield 6-yard line, Ballard ran it in for a 5-yard touchdown and a 47-7 advantage. The running clock was put into action and Ballard scrambled into the end zone for another touchdown from 4 yards out — and it was 54-7 after three quarters.
The Yellow Jackets got another TD when Brian Hayes scored on a sneak after a fumble by the Greeneville backups.
Greeneville’s road to the championship game included wins over East Ridge (56-7), Chattanooga Central (49-12), Anderson County (35-31) and Marshall County (49-24).
It was the second appearance in the state-championship game for Springfield, which won the title in 1993. The Yellow Jackets finished 11-4.