Two sacks late in the fourth quarter proved critical in the milestone 600th win for the Oak Ridge Wildcats on Friday.
The Wildcats (3-1) were leading 28-19 with less than three minutes to play, but the McMinn County Cherokees had driven downfield and were threatening to score with 2:32 left in the game.
But the Cherokeesâ€™ drive stalled with back-to-back sacks by two Oak Ridge defenders, sophomore linebacker Gavin Warrington and senior defensive end Kyler Jones. The Cherokees (1-4) were pushed back from a second-and-7 at the Oak Ridge 18 to a fourth-and-long at about the Oak Ridge 38.
Oak Ridge football coach Joe Gaddis called the two sacks critical.
â€œThose two plays were huge,â€ he told a radio reporter.
The fourth-and-25 play for McMinn County ended with an incomplete pass, and the game ended with a 28-19 Oak Ridge victory.
Gaddis, who returned to Oak Ridge in March after 15 years away, was here for the Wildcatsâ€™ 400th win and was here again for the 600th. Only a handful of schools in Tennessee are reported to have had 600 wins.
McMinn County scored first on Friday night at Blankenship Field on a one-yard run by senior running back Dre Sanders midway through the second quarter.
Oak Ridge responded about four minutes later with a two-yard run by sophomore running back Isiah Jones. The game was tied at 7-7.
Oak Ridge soon scored again with about a minute left in the half on a fourth-and-9 from the McMinn 27 on a pass play from senior quarterback Jaylin Henderson to senior wide receiver Blake Goins.
But McMinn quickly answered as Cherokeesâ€™ junior quarterback Corbin Powers scrambled to the sideline and connected on a 58-yard pass play with senior Trevor Crisp, making the score 14-13 in favor of Oak Ridge with about 10 seconds to play in the half. McMinn County missed the extra point, and Oak Ridge led by one point at halftime.
In the second half, Henderson had an eight-yard touchdown run at 8:50 in the third quarter, and McMinn answered about five minutes later with a 90-yard touchdown play between Powers and Sanders.
McMinn unsuccessfully tried a two-point conversion, and the score was 21-19 in favor of Oak Ridge with 2:41 in the third.
Oak Ridge scored once again on a 29-yard pass play from Henderson to Goins with 10:57 in the fourth. Goins finished the night with six receptions, 100 yards, and two touchdown catches.
Oak Ridge plays Gibbs at home next week.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Note: This story was updated at 10:15 a.m.