Withstanding the wind, weather and the option offense, the Oak Ridge Trojans blew out the visiting Enochs Eagles of Modesto 49-21 in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs Friday.
The two teams combined for four touchdowns within the first five minutes before Oak Ridge took over.
“We did expect Enochs to come out and be a heck of an offense, which they are,” Trojans coach Eric Cavaliere said. “We expected them to be fast and get off the ball. It was very tough for us to simulate that in practice, and it just took us a little while to get used to their speed. But like good teams do, we were able to adjust, and I’m really proud of our defense for shutting them down.”
Enochs utilized its read option offense extremely efficiently in their first drive. Starting at their own 14, the Eagles needed only three plays to take the lead as Tomas Alvarez took a pitch around the left side for a 53-yard touchdown.
Oak Ridge (10-1) came right back to tie it when Josh Wellman weaved around the right side for a 9-yard touchdown.
The Eagles, starting at their own 16, needed only three plays to break the tie. After a short run, Gabriel Lindsey-Turner broke through the line and ran 52 yards to the Oak Ridge 25 yard line, and the Eagles scored on the next play from a Shawn Munoz pass to Joshua Quevedo.
Oak Ridge remained resilient and clawed back. A quick pass from Jason Samuels to Ross Dwelley went for a 19 yard gain, and the Trojans got to the 5 yard line on a slant route to Byron Spain. On first and goal, Samuels scrambled and found fullback Tanner Hughes out of the backfield for the touchdown and the game was tied at 14-14 at the 7:06 mark of the first quarter.
The Trojans began to assume control. A great special-teams tackle from Marcus Padea-Dean set up a Zack Claiborne fumble recovery on a botched Enochs handoff as Oak Ridge gained possession at the Eagle 13 yard line. A pass to Dwelley got Troy to the 1 yard line where Blake Martin plunged into the end zone as Oak Ridge took a 21-14 lead.
Enochs punched back, pounding the running backs Lindsey-Gabriel and Alvarez up the gut, and worked its way down to the 1 yard line where Munoz snuck in behind his offensive line for the touchdown.
Oak Ridge came up with possession after a special teams turnover. Wellman ran for eight yards before Samuels rolled out of the pocket and found a streaking Trent Beunzli in the end zone for a 13 yard touchdown as Troy held a 27-21 lead with 4:07 left in the second half.
The Trojans got the ball back with 3:14 left. Wellman took the first handoff 11 yards, Hughes ran for 12 and Samuels found Spain, who was tackled at the 1. Martin scored on a pitch around the right side and converted the two-point conversion when Victor Bunce popped up and found a wide open Dwelley in the end zone for the 35-21 lead at halftime.
As rain poured down at halftime and continued into the second half with wild winds and hail, Samuels was intercepted by Daniel Villavicencio. With the weather forcing a more run-centric attack, the Trojans turned to Wellman, Martin and Hughes.
A dropped snap by the Enochs punter put Oak Ridge deep in Eagle territory and after runs by Hughes and Martin, Wellman punched it in from 1 yard out as Oak Ridge took a 42-21 lead with 9:15 left in the game. The Trojans added another touchdown late, as Hughes barreled into the end zone as Oak Ridge iced the win.
“I just ran. The O-line did a great job of opening holes, and I just did my best to hold onto the ball and keep my legs moving,” Hughes said.
The Oak Ridge defense, after allowing those three early touchdowns, shut out the Eagles for most of three quarters, and all of the second half.
“It’s just adjusting to the speed. We didn’t really change anything with the defense, just trusting our teammates, playing assignment football, and that really made all the difference,” Cavaliere said.
Oak Ridge will host the Pitman of Turlock in the second round of the playoffs.