COOKEVILLE – When you can win a state title and pad your season stats, it’s always a win-win. Such was the case for Greeneville quarterback Cade Ballard on Friday night.
The Class 4A BlueCross Bowl between unbeaten Greeneville and surprise-finalist Springfield never materialized into much of a contest.
And Ballard, a junior who won Mr. Football on Monday, put the finishing stroke on his masterpiece of a season in a 54-13 win over Springfield.
Ballard entered the game as a 82-percent passer. He wound up completing 15 of 18 passes (83.3 percent) in the season finale for 218 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for 80 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries to finish the fall as Greeneville’s leader in carries (164), rushing yards (944) and rushing touchdowns (20).
His effort also won him the game's offensive MVP award.
Ballard can’t, however, be eligible for the national record for single-season completion percentage, which requires a minimum of 275 pass attempts. Ballard finished with 189 completions in 230 attempts for an 82.2 percentage – which produced 3,148 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Nevertheless, all those numbers combined helped Greeneville (15-0) win its third state title, having won 4A titles in 2010 and 2011. The 2010 championship also featured an unbeaten Greeneville campaign.
Ballard wasn’t the only one inflating his stats Friday. Seth Crawford, who had four interceptions in Greeneville’s state quarterfinal win over Anderson County, picked off two more passes against Springfield. He earned defensive MVP honors.
Crawford also caught two first-half touchdown passes of 33 and 28 yards. He bumped his season receiving stats up to 58 catches, 953 yards and 14 TDs. His teammate Dorien Goddard had four catches for 50 yards to give him 1,016 yards this season.
After Springfield tied Greeneville at 7-all with 5:44 left in the first quarter. Greeneville ran off 33 consecutive points to the break, and Ballard hit Cameron Hite on a 19-yard dagger as the final horn expired in the first half for a 40-7 advantage. That set a championship-game record for most points in a half by a single team. The old mark was 38.
After Goddard returned the second half kickoff to the Springfield 6-yard line, Ballard raced around right end for a touchdown and 47-7 lead.
It got worse from there and the running clock surfaced.
And what’s scary: Greeneville returns eight starters on offense next season, losing just two receivers (Crawford, Jamion Thompson) and one right tackle Nick Rideout.