Note: This story was last updated at 1 p.m. Sept. 6.
FARRAGUT—It was a game of missed opportunities. Oak Ridge Coach Joe Gaddis said. A missed field goal, a bobbled snap on a field goal, a touchdown that was called back, and another missed opportunity for a touchdown.
The Wildcats scored first and led for most of the first half. But Farragut gained a 17-14 lead going into halftime. Then, they added 14 more points in the second half while holding top-ranked Oak Ridge scoreless.
The final score was 31-14 in favor of Farragut. The Admirals had 28 unanswered points starting late in the second quarter.
Both teams were undefeated at 2-0 coming into the rivalry game. It was the first time Oak Ridge (2-1, 1-1 Region 3-5A) has trailed in a game this year. The Wildcats lost even though they had more total yards offense than Farragut (3-0, 1-0), with 409 compared to the Admirals’ 325.
“We just missed some opportunities to go up even further,” Gaddis said of the Wildcats’ early lead.
Junior receiver Tee Higgins had two touchdown catches for Oak Ridge in the first half, and senior running back Tanner Thomas had two touchdown runs for Farragut in the second.
“We kept our composure,” Thomas said. “We just didn’t give up. We executed really well, and big things happened for us.”
Thomas led Farragut in rushing with 183 yards on 23 carries, while Higgins led Oak Ridge in receiving with 193 yards on nine receptions.
Gaddis said Oak Ridge played better offensively and blocked better than they have, but the Wildcats couldn’t put away the Admirals on Bill Clabo Field.
“We let them back in,” he said.
The missed opportunities for Oak Ridge gave momentum to Farragut, he said.
The Wildcats scored first about halfway through the first quarter Friday on a 37-yard pass play from starting senior quarterback Jordan Dunbar to a wide-open Higgins. That score ended a nine-play, 73-yard drive.
Farragut was forced to punt on its first two possessions. But Carter Phillipy hit a 41-yard field goal for the Admirals early in the second quarter to make it 7-3.
Oak Ridge answered on its next possession with another touchdown reception by Higgins, this one a 15-yard pass play at 8:16 in the second quarter. The score was 14-3. It was the last time Oak Ridge scored.
A 47-yard pass from Dunbar to Higgins, who angled across the middle from left to right, helped set up that play.
Farragut scored its first two touchdowns on back-to-back possessions starting with 3:05 left in the first half. The first was a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacob Naumoff to Cole Morgan between two Oak Ridge defenders in the end zone at 2:53 in the second quarter. The second, also a four-yard pass, was to Admiral Alex Tindal at the left corner of the end zone with 15.7 seconds left in the half.
Farragut led 17-14 at halftime.
The Wildcats had a chance to retake the lead when Higgins scored on a 51-yard pass play up the right side of the field early in the third quarter, but the touchdown was called back because of a block in the back.
That Oak Ridge drive ended four plays later with a 46-yard missed field goal attempt from the Farragut 29. Senior Brandon Nickle’s attempt went wide left.
Farragut then scored on its next possession at the end of a three-play, 80-yard drive when Thomas zipped around the right end of the offensive line and then up the middle of the field for a 30-yard touchdown. That gave Farragut a 24-14 lead at 6:24 in the third quarter.
“We were all nervous about this game,” Naumoff told a radio reporter. “But then we settled down.”
Oak Ridge drove 66 yards to the Farragut 14 on its next possession and set up for another field goal attempt. But Nickle was unable to kick the ball because of a bobbled snap, and Farragut took over at its own 29.
Neither team was able to score on its next few possessions.
Then, with only a few minutes to play, Oak Ridge senior quarterback Logan Fadnek, who also played Friday, was intercepted by Justin Kirkendall of Farragut on a second-and-15 from the Wildcats 25. Kirkendall ran it back to the Oak Ridge 9, and Thomas scored on the next play, running up the middle and making it 31-14 Farragut with 1:41 remaining.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Farragut Coach Eddie Courtney said of the comeback win. “They’re very unselfish. They play as a team.”
Gaddis consoled the Wildcats.
“This does not define our season,” he said, calling it a “disappointing loss” and nothing else. Every national championship team in the last 10-15 years has had a loss, Gaddis said.
“We’ll be back next Friday night,” he said.
Senior running back T.J. Allison led the Wildcats in rushing on Friday with 91 yards on 20 carries. Dunbar had 10 completions on 22 attempts for 207 yards. Fadnek was 7-of-15 for 70 yards.
Naumoff was 10-of-16 for 137 yards passing.
Oak Ridge dominated in first downs, with 21 compared to 13 for Farragut.
Total offense for the Wildcats increased by more than 100 yards compared to the 293 yards against Dobyns-Bennett one week earlier, and it was almost double the 211 yards against Clinton in the August 21 season opener.
The Wildcats play at Anderson County (1-2, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 11.
Farragut is now the only undefeated team in Region 3-5A, and Clinton and Oak Ridge are both 2-1 overall and 1-1 in Region 3-5A.
See Friday night game photos here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Here are preliminary statistics by Mark Haste:
|6||Allison, TJ||20||91||26||4.5||102||11||9, 3, 6, 0, 6, -2, 2, 12, 6, 3, 7, 0, -1, 12, 1, 6, 1, -8, 2, 26||6|
|14||Dunbar, Jordan||8||31||14||3.9||32||1||9, -1, 2, 0, 2, 14, 0, 5||2|
|41||Jackson, Tre||2||13||8||6.5||13||8, 5|
|30||Graham, Jordan||3||7||10||2.3||13||6||3, -6, 10||1|
|10||Kimbro, Chase||2||6||4||3.0||6||2, 4|
|24||Simpson, Adarius||2||0||7||0.0||7||7||7, -7|
|17||Fadnek, Logan||2||-21||-6||-10.5||21||-15, -6|
|5||Higgins, Tee||9||193||193||17, 37, 47, 15, 4, 11, 22, 31, 9||7||2|
|9||Middleton, Darel||2||13||13||8, 5|
|14||Dunbar, Jordan||3||44||44||32, 1, 11||2|
|14||Dunbar, Jordan||10||22||45.45%||207||0||207||17, 37, 14, 47, 15, 4, 11, 22, 31, 9||8||2|
|17||Fadnek, Logan||7||15||1||46.67%||70||0||70||32, 8, 1, 8, 5, 11, 5||2|
Tackles by Position—Farragut 2015
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