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Trojans roll over Grant, improve to 4-0

By: Nick Pecoraro Telegraph Correspondent
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Grant High’s football program has always been a local powerhouse. On Friday night at Trojan Stadium, the Oak Ridge football team did something that not many teams can say that they have done over the past decade plus—they handed the Pacers a third consecutive loss. The 42-14 victory put Oak Ridge at 4-0 on the season and had some Trojan fans and players buzzing about making a statement. “It’s such a team game and we really played as a unit tonight. There were really no superstars. We were able to spread it around and everybody did their job,” said Trojan head coach Eric Cavaliere. “I don’t know that we were making a statement. We come into every game expecting to win. I think the statement is that we played well tonight. We feel we can play with athletic teams and when we play disciplined football, it doesn’t matter who we’re lined up against.” Oak Ridge had five different players score touchdowns on their six scoring drives. Byron Spain, Ross Dwelley and Tanner Hughes all caught TD passes. Hughes, Jericho Hallare and Blake Martin each ran for one while Ryan Lamb went 6-for-6 on PAT’s. Defensive execution led to offensive opportunities for the Trojans. On the second play of Grant’s initial second half drive, Victor Bunce nabbed the first of his two interceptions off of an Isaiah Rios pass. Oak Ridge then made good on a 58-yard drive, ending with Hallare’s score from a yard out, making it 35-14, Trojans. Grant threatened to score on the next possession before another Rios pass was read for a Trojan pick at the 12-yard line—this time by Thomas Mahlman, giving Oak Ridge an opportunity to burn some clock on offense. “Our defense is a big part of what we’ve been doing this year,” said defensive back Jacob Sipes, who helped his defensive mates shut Grant out in the second half. “Every year, Grant has come in and handled Oak Ridge. We’re just trying to prove ourselves this year because we believe we have a team that can go really far. We have a really strong bond. We’re trying to make a statement and this game started it.” Oak Ridge punted the ball away at the beginning of the second quarter. Only the punter Sipes prevented a touchdown from Darrion Jeffery, who ran 45 yards to midfield on the return. Rios hit Jeffery on the next play for another 50 yards that brought the Pacers inside the Trojan one-yard line. Two plays later, Deondre Grays burst into the house, knotting the score at seven. The two teams traded touchdowns closing the first half, beginning with Hughes finding the endzone for a second time on fourth-and-inches from the nine. The junior fullback was stopped at the line of scrimmage but kept plowing through defenders to put the Trojans back on top, 14-7. Three plays into the following Grant possession, Rios connected with Jeffery again on a 66-yard play down the right sideline for a game-tying score before the Trojans answered back with Samuels hitting Spain from 36 yards out. Sacks from Mahlman, Hekoti Chapman and Zack Claiborne helped the Trojans keep the seven-point lead at the half. Oak Ridge built upon its lead on its first drive of the second half. A 30-yard kickoff return from Josh Wellman gave the Trojans excellent field position to begin the drive, which ended with a perfectly placed 11-yard pass from Jason Samuels into the hands of Dwelley. “We’re a no-joke team,” said Samuels, who completed 21 passes for 265 yards plus three touchdowns. “It’s a huge win for us going forward. We did our jobs tonight. I have full confidence in all of our guys. We can’t settle for what we’ve done so far. We’re rolling right now but we still have work to do.” JV Pacers 32, Trojans 3 The JV Trojans just plain had a rough night. The Grant defense gave Oak Ridge fits on the offensive end for most of the evening in a 32-3 pounding of the Trojans, who fell to 1-3 on the 2012 season. “We were in the game. I was proud of our effort from the first half through the third quarter. We just went flat and didn’t come back alive again until the end of the fourth quarter,” said Trojan coach Ron Short. “We had a couple blocked kicks on PAT’s, which was good. We just have to put four quarters together. It’s a growth year for us and our guys are much better than what our record shows.” Adam Walter gave the Trojans their only score of the night on a late second quarter field goal. Oak Ridge drove down to Grant’s five-yard line trying to put a touchdown on the board in the closing minute of the game. On the final play, however, the Pacers intercepted a pass and went endzone-to-endzone to close the game out.