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Trojans upset Rams on final play

Benander's sneak as time expires lifts Oak Ridge to 23-21 win
By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge battled, continually fighting through adversity and after 48 minutes, upset Casa Roble on a game’s final play. Connor Benander’s one-yard quarterback sneak behind the blocks of center Brett Green and guards Ryan Boudreau and Matt Coffrini as time expired gave the Trojans a 23-21 win, ruining Casa Roble’s homecoming football game. In the process, the Trojans picked up their first win and will be riding high as league play begins next Friday at home against Union Mine. “We played forty-eight minutes of football, and I’m so proud of you guys,” Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere told his team after the game. “Defensively, we started off sluggish and fell behind 14-0, but we stuffed them for 3 ½ quarters. Offensively, we kept plugging and kept plugging and in the end we wore them out.” After Oak Ridge took a 17-14 lead on a Jacob Allen 2-yard run with 5:27 to play, the Rams moved the ball 87 yards on just eight plays to retake the lead, 21-17, with 2:54 to play. Nick Barnett gave the team decent field position, returning the ball to the 31-yard line, when the offense took over with 2:48 to play. Oak Ridge effectively ran the ball up the middle with Jacob Allen and Jordan Matanane. After two runs by Matanane to start the drive, on third-and-one on their own 40-yard line, Allen picked up 15 yards up the middle to reach the Ram 45. Benander then hooked up with Robbie Beyer for a seven-yard gain before Matanane ran the ball twice to move the ball to the 29-yard line. Benander, under pressure and rolling to his left, threw the ball away looking for Tommy Massa. On third and a long five, Allen picked up six yards for a first down with 50 seconds to play. After another incomplete pass to Massa, Benander this time found him on a slant on the biggest pass play of the drive, which picked up 12 yards and gave Oak Ridge the ball at the 11-yard line. After a spike to stop the clock, Benander misfired on another pass to Massa on second down. On third down, Benander rolled to his right and found Massa in the end zone, but the Trojans were flagged for an ineligible receiver down field, which not only negated the touchdown, but was also a loss of five yards and a down. On fourth-and-14 from the 15, Benander dropped back to pass, but instead ran the ball to the one-yard line for a first down. After spiking the ball again to stop the clock, Benander followed his interior lineman for the game-winning touchdown as time expired. “We had a lot of adversity through the week, but we believed in each other and played our hearts out,” Benander said. “I definitely feel like we wore them down and that goes back to all the work we did in the offseason. It was a good win for Oak Ridge.” If the Trojans were to pick one non-league game to win, this might have been the one to choose. It would have been nice to start the season with a victory over Rocklin and a win over rival Folsom is always great. Beating the top-ranked team in the area would have been historic, but to lose the following week would have taken away from the win. To beat the Rams, though, gives the team something they wouldn’t have gotten from any other win. “This gives us momentum heading into league play,” Cavaliere said. “I believe in this team and this will give us that extra spring in our step on Monday going into league play.” Oak Ridge’s first touchdown came on a 9-yard Benander pass to Massa. The Trojans also picked up three points on a 38-yard field goal by Beyer to end the first half. Trojans JV improves to 3-1 Dylan Collie scored three touchdowns, two on passes receptions and another on an interception return, to lead the junior varsity team to a 26-6 win over the Rams. Quarterback Frank Trifeletti threw three touchdown passes, two to Collie and another to Trent Stigerts, to account for the scoring. “We came out and played great on both sides of the ball,” coach Aaron Brackney said. “Offensively, we ran the ball well. Shay Mueller also played well for us at tailback, replacing JD Spencer, who was called up to the varsity team. “As a team, I think we’ve found our identity heading into league and that is important. We understand how to prepare for games and we’re improving on a weekly basis, but we’ve got to continue working to get better.”