Football: Oak Ridge overcomes slow start, Eagles
SACRAMENTO — Dominating … on both sides of the ball. Rallying from an early 12-0 hole, visiting Oak Ridge ran and threw all over host Pleasant Grove for a 38-19 win to put itself in position for a possible Delta River League title.
For a team known to throw the ball at will, it was the Trojan ground game that did the most damage. Behind Blake Martin, Josh Wellman and Tanner Hughes, Oak Ridge ran for 251 yards, including a game high 118 from Martin. Troy quarterback Jason Samuels went for 228 yards on 14-of-22 passing.
“If you can establish the run you can do what you want in your offense,” said Trojan coach Eric Cavaliere. “We had great balance and when you can get huge chunks, five or six yards at a time, it really opens things up.”
From the onset things didn’t start well for Oak Ridge which yielded Sedrick Thomas’ 93-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff and then a fumble to set up Isiah Saunders’ 1-yard run to put the Trojans in an early hole.
“Our coaches preached confidence to us all week,” Samuels said. “We knew it’d be a shootout and we didn’t get down on ourselves and fought back.”
Trailing, the Trojans got back on track as Samuels led an 11 play, 63 yard drive capped by Martin’s 1-yard scoring run. Two possessions later, Samuels found Ross Dewelley for an 11-yard score and 14-12 lead.
Led by a suffocating defense the Trojans recorded seven sacks, three and a half from Zack Claiborne and two from Chandler Christy. The Trojans also held the Eagles to just 214 yards of offense, including Saunders to 67.
“Up front we lined up in pretty much one defense all night and stuck with it,” said Cavaliere. “The kids just executed tonight and did what they were supposed to do. Zack had a phenomenal game. When he’s on he’s very hard to block.”
The second half was all Oak Ridge as the visitors scored on their first three possessions as Hughes scored twice and Martin once from 44 yards out. Ryan Lamb added a 30-yard field goal to conclude the scoring.
“It was real important for us to come out and establish ourselves in the second half and we did that tonight,” said Cavaliere. “Tonight was a big win for us. The last three years they’ve handled us. We have a lot of respect for them and to come into here and beat them, its a big deal for our program.”
Along with Martin’s third straight 100-yard game, Wellman added 60 yards on 10 carries and Hughes added 59 on 11 totes. Justin Priest led all receivers with 83 yards on two receptions. Byron Spain caught seven passes for 75 yards. Dwelley added 52 on three receptions and Jacob Sipes added 18 on two catches.
On defense Trent Buenzlie added a sack and Jacob Proul added half a sack. Sipes also had a late game interception.