Polk Middle’s Karlen McEntyre rambles through Smoky Mountain Middle’s defense

McEntyre blows through Smoky Mountain defense to help power Polk Middle to win

Strong winds whipped Thursday through G.M. Tennant Stadium – much like Karlen McEntyre raced through Smoky Mountain Middle’s defense.

McEntyre rushed for 341 yards and five touchdowns, helping power Polk County Middle to a 32-21 victory in a Blue Ridge Conference playoff game.

McEntyre had 147 yards and three scores in a wild fourth quarter, his last touchdown a 64-yard gallop with 1:08 remaining that finally sealed a win that allowed Polk Middle to end its season with a 3-3 record.

It also brought relief to those who braved winds gusting at 20-25 mph during the game, breezes strong enough at one point to turn over one of the metal benches on the Polk County sideline.

Polk Middle scored first on a McEntyre 28-yard run, but Smoky Mountain (2-3) answered late in the period to take an 8-6 lead. The Mustangs then forced a fumble and scored again for a 14-6 advantage that stood at the half.

That margin held until the final minute of the third period when McEntyre broke free for a 56-yard run, cutting the margin to 14-12.

Aaron Jackson recovers a Smoky Mountain Middle fumble in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game

Polk’s Lorenzo Sanchez forced a Smoky Mountain fumble early in the fourth period, that recovered by Aaron Jackson, to set up a McEntyre 11-yard touchdown run with 4:45 remaining. McEntyre added the 2-point conversion to give Polk a 20-14 advantage.

Then came perhaps the game’s key play.

Kicking off in the wind, Polk’s Avery Hensley lofted a high kick that stalled in the breeze, dropping to the turf and bouncing free before Sanchez pounced on the ball at the 34. That led to a McEntyre 11-yard scoring run with 2:19 left that upped the Wolverines’ lead to 26-14.

Smoky Mountain Middle, though, wasn’t done, scoring on the ensuing kickoff and converting the extra point to slice Polk’s lead to 26-21 with 2:06 to go.

The Wolverines recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt, and McEntyre put the game firmly out of reach with a 64-yard touchdown sprint with 1:08 remaining.

Polk Middle stopped Smoky Mountain Middle on its final possession, and Polk quarterback Gunnar Alm took the final snap of the season and kneeled, ending the most unusual of seasons.

Polk Middle players begin to celebrate as time expires Thursday