Like they did a week earlier, the Oak Ridge Wildcats again raced to a quick 35-0 start on Friday. The undefeated Wildcats scored their first four touchdowns in their first nine plays during a 56-6 win over the winless Karns Beavers.
Last week, against Sevier County, the Wildcats rolled to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter.
This week, against Karns, they jumped out to a 35-0 lead by early in the second quarter, on Senior Night on Blankenship Field. Like last week, the scoring pace slowed after that.
Oak Ridge held Karns to 65 yards on offense.
The Wildcats again scored on their first offensive play, this time on a 56-yard pass from junior quarterback Johnny Stewart to senior wide receiver Tee Higgins, a Clemson commitment who was left undefended in the middle of the field.
Higgins scored again late in the first quarter on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Stewart.
The Wildcats’ second touchdown was set up by a Karns punt blocked by Oak Ridge senior linebacker Kyndall Clark, who wore number 79 in honor of former teammate James Joseph “Joey” Kocak, who died in March 2015.
Starting at the Karns 32 after the blocked punt, Oak Ridge (7-0, 4-0 Region 3-5A) scored a few plays later when sophomore running back Jordan Graham followed his blockers, Higgins and senior Chase Kimbro, up the right side and into the end zone.
Karns (0-6, 0-3) fumbled on its next possession, and Clark recovered it at the Beavers 14. Two plays later, the Wildcats were back in the end zone, this time on a four-yard run by sophomore running back Tre Jackson.
Higgins set up his second touchdown with a long punt return. He scored on the 33-yard reception from Stewart, catching the ball and running into the end zone ahead of a single Karns defender.
Oak Ridge scored its fifth touchdown at the end of a nine-play drive that started at the Wildcats 37. Senior Caleb Jackson carried the football in from one yard out. The score was 35-0 at 9:47 in the second quarter.
Karns picked up its first first down of the game a minute later. But Clark stopped that drive with a deflected third-down pass that forced a Beavers punt.
— Myles Hebrard (@myleshebrard) September 30, 2016
The Beavers scored two possessions later with help from a pass interference call that moved the ball from the Karns 37 to the Oak Ridge 22. Beavers sophomore wide receiver Cartez Campbell got behind Oak Ridge senior cornerback Jaret Miner in the back right corner of the end zone, and sophomore quarterback Daniel Kitts lofted a two-yard touchdown pass to Campbell.
The extra point was blocked, and Karns did not score again.
Oak Ridge scored again in the third quarter on a two-yard run by Kimbro and a four-yard run on a pitch from Stewart to Jackson. That second TD was set up by a Karns fumble recovered by Oak Ridge junior safety Adarius Simpson.
Sophomore quarterback Herbert Booker, one of three Oak Ridge quarterbacks to play Friday, added a three-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Oak Ridge Coach Joe Gaddis was happier with this week’s performance than he was with last week’s. Against Sevier County, he said the Wildcats played well in the first quarter, but not great after that.
This week, he said, “we got better.”
After starting fast, the pace slowed a bit, but then picked up in the third quarter, Gaddis said. 35-0 seems to be a sticking point, Gaddis said.
The competition is about to “ramp up,” Gaddis said. In the last three games of the regular season, Oak Ridge will play at McMinn County (5-1, 3-0 Region 4-5A) in Athens on Friday, October 7; at Webb (5-1, 3-0 in Division II, Class A, East and Middle Region) in Knoxville on Friday, October 21; and at Campbell County (6-1, 2-1 Region 3-5A) on Thursday, October 27.
They’re three good teams, Gaddis said.
Oak Ridge and McMinn County have both played Lenoir City. The Wildcats beat the Panthers 45-8, and the Cherokees won 42-21.
Campbell County started the season with a 6-0, 2-0 record, the best in school history, but lost to Farragut 38-28 on Friday. Oak Ridge beat Farragut 30-25 on September 2.
The Wildcats had 353 yards on Friday (225 yards rushing, 127 passing), compared to 65 yards (63 yards rushing, 2 passing) for the Beavers.
Oak Ridge held Karns to four first four downs. The Wildcats finished with 14.
Jackson led Oak Ridge in rushing with 79 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Graham was close behind with 76 yards on eight carries and one touchdown.
Higgins had 109 yards receiving on four catches and two touchdowns.
Stewart completed six passes on 10 attempts (60 percent), with 127 total yards and two touchdowns.
Senior linebacker Jacob Gross led the Wildcats with six tackles on defense.
Here are preliminary statistics by Mark and Shawna Haste.
See more photos here.
See a video by Myles Hebrard of Tee Higgins’ second touchdown catch here.
See a video by Myles Hebrard of a run by Jordan Graham here.
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