Trojans open with 27-6 win over Eagles

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge made their fair share of opening-game mistakes, but otherwise put together a solid performance in a 27-6 win over Vista del Lago on Saturday night. Quarterback Will Tostenson threw three touchdown passes, two to Willie Tucker and another to Dylan Collie, and Jordan Matanane carried the load on the ground, as the Trojans scored four times on offense. Matanane gained 66 of his 240 yards on a touchdown run in the third quarter to break the game open. He proved to be a workhorse behind a strong effort from Oak Ridge’s offensive line, carrying the ball 33 times. Defensively, Oak Ridge had a fumble recovery from Preston Dean, which led to their first score, and interceptions from Nick Barnett and Kyle Belcher. Bobby Braman also blocked an extra point. “I was happy with our defense,” Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said. “Our front seven took care of business and shut down their run and forced them to the air. We also had a good pass rush. Offensively, we struggled early with mistakes and penalties, but Will and Willie got some chemistry going and Jordan carried the load.” For the Eagles, it wasn’t the start to the season they had hoped for. After a decent first half, the team struggled in the second half, giving up two Oak Ridge scores and getting next to nothing on offense. Logan Smith, a key playmaking wide receiver, went down with an ankle injury just past the halfway point of the second quarter and didn’t return and the team seemingly went with him. “Losing Logan was big,” Vista coach Chris Jones said. “He’s a go-to guy for us on offense and a starting corner on defense and losing him made us thin. That combined with losing Tyler Weber (a starting safety) early to an ejection left us really thin in the secondary. “Throughout the week we talked about how we would respond to certain situations and we didn’t respond well at times. We played alright in the first half, but after we lost Logan, we fell apart and didn’t overcome that.” Oak Ridge threatened to score first, moving down to Vista’s 9-yard line before attempting a 27-yard field goal. JD Smith’s kick, however, was blocked by Vista’s Emery Vermilyea. The Eagles, however, fumbled on their next play and Oak Ridge’s Preston Dean recovered. On the next play, Tostenson hooked up with Tucker from 20 yards out and Smith’s extra point made it 7-0. Vista answered immediately, as Trey Hairabedian finished off a six-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Anthony Mull completed a 44-yard pass to Caleb Gottschalk, two plays after a 23-yard pass to Smith, which were the two big plays of the drive. Braman blocked the extra point and Oak Ridge led 7-6. With 2:38 to play in the half, Tostenson found Tucker again from 37 yards out to make it 13-6 at the break. Matanane opened the second half with his 66-yard scoring run on the second play from scrimmage and Tostenson hooked up with Collie with 1:44 to play to finish the scoring. JV Trojans win, 6-2 Blake Martin scored the only touchdown of the game, scoring on a four-yard run with 1:16 to play in the first quarter and that’s all the points that Oak Ridge needed. The Trojans pitched a shutout on defense, choosing to take a safety late in the game in exchange for putting Vista in worse field position than had they decided to punt. The Eagles had the ball inside the Oak Ridge 40-yard line five times, but came away with nothing. “I’m really happy with the defense; they did an outstanding job,” Oak Ridge coach Ron Short said. “They showed their heart. They learned to bend but not break. The closer they got to our end zone, the tougher we got.” Vista coach Zac Kinter was disappointed with the loss, but happy with his team’s performance. “We won the time of possession; we won the yardage, we didn’t allow them to cross the 50 for the last three quarters of the game and we moved the ball effectively, but when we got in the red zone we couldn’t finish,” Kinter said. “We had some penalties and we need to learn to be more disciplined. Our effort was great, though, and we competed hard. It’s a game we wanted to win, but we’ll fix it.”