After struggling this season, the Oak Ridge Wildcats gained confidence headed into the football playoffs tonight with a 48-21 win over region rival Campbell County last Friday.
“This was our best game in a lot of ways, for a lot of reasons,” Oak Ridge Coach Joe Gaddis told his huddled team on Blankenship Field after the victory over the Cougars (6-4, 1-3 Region 3-5A). “That’s a good way to finish the regular season.”
The 48 points was the most scored by Oak Ridge (3-7, 3-2) this season.
The Wildcats also had the most rushing yards and total yards of the season, by far, against the Cougars on Friday. They ran for 366 yards and totaled 517.
“This is kind of a breakout game,” Gaddis said. “We were able to run the ball.”
Oak Ridge sophomore De’Javius Dozier broke tackles and scored three touchdowns as he ran for more than 200 yards, the best performance of any Wildcat this season. He also ran for three touchdowns. Dozier’s previous team-high rushing total was 130 yards at Lenoir City on September 3.
Also important last Friday: “We won the turnover battle,” Gaddis said. Campbell County senior quarterback Hunter White threw three interceptions while Oak Ridge junior quarterback Hayden Tarwater was picked once.
Another Wildcat, senior Kendall Jackson, also broke 100 yards rushing on Friday, with 124 total. He ran for two touchdowns and had long runs of 54 and 59 yards.
To round out the scoring, two Wildcats caught touchdown passes: junior Jai Hunley and sophomore Brandon Heyward. Tarwater was 13-of-19 passing with 151 yards and two touchdowns.
Oak Ridge, the number three seed in Region 3, will play at McMinn County (7-3), the number two seed in Region 4, in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs on Friday, November 5. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Campbell County (6-4, 1-3 Region 3-5A), the number four seed in Region 3, will travel to Rhea County (8-2), the number one seed in Region 4.
Other Region 3 teams in the playoffs are:
- Powell (8-2), the number one seed, which will host Region 4 team Ooltewah (2-7), the number four seed; and
- Karns (6-4), the number two seed, which will host Region 4 team Walker Valley (5-5), the number three seed.
Clinton and Lenoir City did not make the playoffs this year.
Oak Ridge seniors Ethan Hewitt and Jacob Berven were pleased with the outcome of the Friday night game, which could be their last on Blankenship Field.
“It really means so much,” Berven said. “Going into the playoffs with a win … It gives us confidence.”
“It’s very important to get on track,” Hewitt said. “We’ve had an off season. It’s nice to get a big win.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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