War Eagle O-Line Keys Come From Behind Win in Bryan 36-33

Photo courtesy of Chuck Briese

Photo courtesy of Chuck Briese

Thomas Shiver, Justin Smith, Grant Homrighaus, Christian Jackson, Nick Gonzalez , Josh Lowe and the Oak Ridge War Eagles came back from a 33-17 deficit to conquer the mighty Bryan Vikings late in the fourth quarter, and preserved their perfect record in a District 14-5A thriller Friday night at Merrill Green Stadium in Bryan, 36-33.

Shiver, Smith, Homrighaus, Jackson, Gonzalez and Lowe compose the War Eagles (5-0, 1-0) offensive line. Because they did such an outstanding job, Kwame Etwi was able to score four touchdowns, including a 59 yarder with 2:31 left in the game. That score proved to be the winning tally in what wasn’t one of Oak Ridge’s best efforts thus far in the 2013 campaign.

Things did not start out positively for the War Eagles as Bryan (2-3, 0-1) surprised Oak Ridge with a successful onsides kick on the opening kickoff. A few plays later, running back Bobby Johnson scored on a five yard run and with a successful extra point by kicker Corey Johnson, the Vikings were quickly out in front 7-0 with just 1:08 gone in the first quarter.

Oak Ridge then got down to business and on a drive that was stalled on Bryan’s 10 yard line, kicker Patrick Coale connected on a 27 yard field goal.

On the ensuing kickoff, Coale executed a perfect pooch kick that arrived at Tyler Slaydon (Bryan kick returner) inside the 25 yard line at about the same time several War Eagles special teams players arrived. The ball went through Slaydon’s hands, bounced off his knee and trickled to the 29 yard line where a fumble pile quickly appeared to include several swarming War Eagles and Vikings. The referees disassembled the madness and the War Eagle’s Marcus Mitchell was found clutching the ball.

A Kwame Etwi run brought the War Eagles to a first and goal on the five yard line. Justin Edwards took the handoff on first down and drove to the three yard line. On second down, Letney kept it and got nowhere. On a third down option play, Letney ran left and was tripped up but was able to dive into the end zone, putting Oak Ridge on top.

From that point until late in the third quarter, someone needed to put out an APB (All Points Bulletin) in an effort to locate the Oak Ridge football team. After three straight touchdowns by Bryan’s Johnson on a one yard run, 85 yard run and a 20 yard receiving TD, it was 27-10 Bryan. With 5:21 left in the third quarter, Etwi scored on a one yarder making the score, 27-17.

On Johnson’s 85 yard TD, once again Oak Ridge had a running back stopped only to have him bounce outside for a long TD.

On Bryan’s next possession, the Oak Ridge defense stopped the Vikings, but on 4th down Bryan ran a perfectly executed fake punt as V.J. Banks hit Justin Newton with a pass. That play kept alive a late third quarter drive that culminated in a Williams 34 yard touchdown run with 2:25 left in the third. After a failed extra point try it was 33-17.

The third quarter soon ended and so did the search for the War Eagle football program. In reappearing, they returned as the War Eagles of old and dominated the whole fourth quarter starting with the second of Etwi’s four second half touchdowns on a two yard score. Down by ten, Coach Rush went to the “laws of coaching handbook” and went for two in the hopes of being behind by one TD and a deuce conversion if Oak Ridge was successful. The run failed and the score was 33-23.

The Kwame Etwi show continued as Oak Ridge drove down the field again and Etwi took another one in from 23 yards out. With Coale’s XP good, the War Eagles trailed by three, 33-30.

The Oak Ridge defense did their job again as the offense was back in possession of the ball with three minutes left on the clock.

Shortly thereafter, Etwi’s number was called again on an option play; with the help of the excellent War Eagle O-line, Kwame picked the right hole and off he went for a clutch 59 yard scoring run. Coale’s kick failed, making the score 36-33 good guys, leaving  the home team needing a field goal to tie things up or a TD to win it.

The game was far from over and Bryan had no intention of laying down as they drove the ball downfield and advanced the ball to the Oak Ridge 12 with under 20 seconds remaining.  With no time outs left, Bryan’s sophomore QB B.J. Ross was forced to call a play on the run. He rushed a throw towards receiver Corey Johnson to the back left corner of the end zone, but Oak Ridge cornerback Tyler Marcel was on him like glue and swatted the ball away to preserve the War Eagle victory.

Bryan outgained Oak Ridge in total yardage 504 to 395 but Oak Ridge had five more first downs on the strength of 329 yards rushing.

Letney was 4-8 for 50 yards passing with two of them going to Etwi for 29 yards. Letney ran the ball nine times for 66 yards while Etwi had a monster day gaining 212 yards off of 23 carries.

Bryan QB Ross threw for 223 yards. Sterling Whitney had three catches for  70 yards.

DB’s Kevin Tillery-Walker and Nick Lauterbach had a theft apiece for Oak Ridge.

Oak Ridge plays College Park next Friday.

WORTHY OF NOTE: 

What a huge win! Not because the team played a solid game and they’re playing with such great chemistry and it’s one big Kumbaya festival. No, it wasn’t like that at all. As a matter of fact, it was huge because they were the exact opposite. You saw for yourself that Bryan is a good football team and has weapons. The War Eagles just beat a good 5A football team and at the same time pretty much played more like garbage than they played good. Don’t get mad – they played good in the fourth quarter, proving they can get down and not fall completely apart and settle for having a pity party. In the future, they will know that they have it within them to come back and win a game. Maybe one of those games will be a playoff game. Yeah, this was a huge game where the War Eagles found themselves and are way for better for it. But… let’s not forget that for three quarters the team did what Matt Malatesta of VYPE said they have to guard against: the team started smelling themselves a little and in getting a bit cocky, things fell apart a little, but luckily not quite enough.

Penalties, including unsportsmanlike calls: As I saw on an ORHS Booster Club post, this game was about as sloppy a game as any of you will see. This is uncharacteristic of a Dereck Rush led football team. Also, Oak Ridge entered into unsportsmanlike penalty territory, which is way over the top for a Rush led team. But, you know what? So what? Not that it’s OK but the War Eagles are allowed to make physical and mental mistakes once in a while. They are high school football players, not robots. The coaches will be on these kids and things will be back to normal. It’s not like every player on the team lost their minds. This game was an anomaly and just about everything that could happen bad in a game, happened. And yet… the team got a W out of it. They will be more than ready to play CP next week.

For those of you who’ve been around for a while, I was wondering if any of you experienced the following in the first half: I swear, I thought I was in Funkytown (Lufkin) the whole first half. I won’t give examples because it’ll take too long. I must have seen at least five blatant, ridiculous hometown calls in the first and second quarters. In Lufkin, you expect that because it’s part of the game there. You know if you have Funkytown on your schedule you are going to have to play flawless football because not only are you going to have to defeat a good team, you’ll have to defeat a team of biased officials. Things got a little better in the second half and maybe evened out a little bit, but man I was scared for a while. I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone for a while there. We can’t be having two Funkytowns on our schedule every two years.

Humor: We’re close to the action down there and we hear some pretty good stuff. Some of it will stay there because lots of what happens down there has to stay there. I don’t think this one coach will mind and I don’t mention names:

Oak Ridge was kicking off at one point in the game and Coale’s kick went about five yards deep in the end zone. The returner seemed like he might do something with it but he put down a knee. This one coach muttered so only those close to him could here: “Oh, take it out you chicken. Man, what a chicken!”

Of course, he’s just having fun and meaning no ill will at all towards the player. It was at a certain point during the game where Oak Ridge could have used a big play, which was pretty much the first 36 minutes of the football game. Again, I’m going back to my past because I had colorful coaches like we all did back in the day. I can see my coach back then saying the whole thing this coach said but then adding on some colorful language that usually comes right after the word chicken. Those few of us who are versed in that kind of language can relate. I point this out because I think it’s cool that these coaches remain clean in the face of serious pressure. You’re saying pressure in a high school football game? YES I AM! This is Texas!

FANS, BAND, LIBERTY BELLES, etc… Oak Ridge has good fans and good student organizations. These fans don’t quit either because they believe in their school and don’t give up just like the players don’t. Didn’t you love the crowd chanting (down 16 points in the 3rd quarter):

“I. I. I believe. I believe. I believe that. I believe that. I believe that we. I believe that we. I believe that we will. I believe that we will. I believe that we will win. I believe that we will win.  I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!  I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!  I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!  I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!  I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!  I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!  I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! ”

Guess what? It worked.

A group of about ten boys had their own cheering section near the front row where the kicking screen is. These guys are stoked. I mean these guys are yelling while the game isn’t even going on because…well… because they just like to. Time was out at one point and nothing is going on except for Patrick Coale kicking balls into the screen. As soon as he kicks it, these guys are like BOOM! WOOOOOOO! YEAHHHHHH and whatever else and it was hilarious. It was nonstop and it was great! Whoever you are… just be at every home and away game, please!

Shout out to Emma Hoffman. She’s one of the very talented cymbals musicians for the Oak Ridge band and just happens to be our Oak Ridge Now Faces in the Band Musicians of the Week. Over the Summer, Emma traveled with the People to People Ambassador Program on The European Odyssey, which is a three week tour of Greece, Italy and France. The program gives students from 5th through 12th grade the opportunity to travel abroad and learn about the world and in turn, educate those in other countries as to what we are all about here. Although attending school is paramount to a person’s success, Emma knows that getting out and learning about the world is doubly as important. After all, “The REAL classroom is outside”.

Lastly… this Oak Ridge football team reminds me of a movie I saw a long time ago because they are on a mission. The movie is called Vision Quest, which is a wrestling movie but it is applicable to any sport.. The main character, Loudin Swain, is played by Matthew Modine. He’s the #1 wrestler at 188 on his high school team. Swain is an 18 year old senior and isn’t satisfied with himself just being good enough and wants to challenge himself. He makes it a personal goal to lose 18 pounds to get down to the best wrestler in the state of Washington’s class. The wrestler at 170 is a marine looking animal that works out by carrying a telephone pole up and down all of the stairs at the University of Washington’s football stadium. The behemoth in wrestling tights is Brian Shute. The journey for Swain is about the most exciting thing to see for a young athlete and a must see for any kid that has set big goals for himself-herself. If you watch this movie and after it do not feel like accomplishing something insanely ridiculous you just aren’t sportsminded. Swain’s credo is the following.

“My name’s Louden, Louden Swain. Last week I turned 18. I wasn’t ready for it. I haven’t done anything yet. So I made this deal with myself. This is the year I make my mark.” 

How about it Oak Ridge football? Have you done anything yet? Is 5-0 good enough for you? Is this the year that you make your mark?

We are all behind you 100%!!!!!!!

Beat CP. One game at a time.

Comments to Doug Sarant at doug@oakridgenow.com

If you weren’t able to make Friday night’s game, here are some photos that capture the festivities. These are courtesy of Chuck Briese (Jim Eastin was unavailable this week). They’ll be better next week, as Mr. Eastin always raises the quality of sports photography at Oak Ridge.

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Doug Sarant, Oak Ridge Now

Born and raised in New England, Doug promises he got to Texas as fast as he could. He earned the much needed "piece of paper" from Sam Houston State, proving to himself he could start and finish something. Doug's interests include coaching and playing any sport and still plays lacrosse competitively. He also enjoys going to dinner theaters, though he complains there just aren't enough of them in the area. Doug was brought up in a cultured environment, having suffered through dozens of symphonies and operas with his way too over-educated mother. At the end of the day, Doug is just a dad and husband and claims to be good at both.

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