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Oakdale captures first victory against Jellico

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By Goose Lindsay

A fast start and a stout defense were the keys to victory Friday night, as the Oakdale Eagles defeated the Jellico Blue Devils 12-8 at Hollis Eble Field.

   “It was a tough, physical game,” Oakdale head coach JR Voyles said. “I thought both teams played hard and got after it. It was a good old-fashioned slobber-knocker and I’m glad we’re on the side we are.”

   The win is surprising considering a month ago Oakdale didn’t know if it would have a team due to a lack of players. Friday night, the Eagles suited less than 20 players, but still found a way to win.

   “To have a team is a blessing,” senior QB Eli Solomon said. “With all the people leaving, quitting on us and saying we wouldn’t be any good, it makes it good when we can go out here and do something good. To show people we can win is a blessing.”

   “What makes it special for me is looking over at our guys and seeing them excited about being here, excited about playing high school football,” Voyles added. “There are a lot of smiles on a lot of Eagles tonight and I’m happy about that.”

   Solomon played a role in Oakdale’s fast start. He tossed touchdown passes to end each of the Eagles first two possessions.

   The first score came just two plays into the contest as Solomon hit Tyler Hinds out of the backfield on a short pass. Hinds did the rest as he outran the Blue Devil secondary into the end zone for a 51-yard score.

   “Coach (Sam) McCartt is a really good offensive coordinator and he really repped the bubble because he saw on film they don’t cover the flats very well, so he wanted to start off exposing their defense,” Solomon said of Oakdale’s quick score.

   Oakdale missed the PAT, leaving the score 6-0 with 11:11 remaining in the opening period.

   Oakdale’s second touchdown wasn’t as quick. The Eagles would march 60 yards in 11 plays with the touchdown coming on a 31-yard pass from Solomon to Avrin Collins on fourth-and-7.

   “The second touchdown was a great route by Avrin and the line held up long enough for me to fake the slant and throw it deep,” Solomon said.

   The Eagles’ 2-point try failed, leaving the score 12-0 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

   Jellico answered 1:16 later when QB Noah Smith tossed a 23-yard touchdown.

Noah Albertini added the conversion run to cut Oakdale’s lead to 12-8 with 41 seconds left in the first quarter.

The remainder of the contest would be dominated by Oakdale’s defense, as Jellico did not cross midfield after the first quarter. The Eagles limited Jellico to minus 2 yards rushing and 75 total yards of offense.

Offensively, Oakdale had chances to add to its lead. The Eagles marched inside the Blue Devils’ 20-yard line three times after the first quarter, but failed to capitalize on all three occasions.

“We felt like it was important for us to win the line of scrimmage,” Voyles said. “I felt we did that for the most part, but we probably did leave three or four scores out there from the simple standpoint of when you get inside the 20 you have to get it in the end zone. We have to find a way to finish drives.”

Oakdale finished the evening with 272 yards of total offense.

Solomon led the way on the ground with 74 yards rushing on 21 carries. Hinds added 37 yards on seven attempts.

Solomon (3-4, 83 yards, 2 TDs)and Garrett Miller (4-7, 44 yards) combined to complete 7 of 11 passes for 131 yards.

Eloy Vera led Oakdale in catches with two for 38 yards. He also picked off a pass on defense.

The Eagles open their Region 2-1A schedule Friday evening when they host Midway (2-0).

Coach (Ryen) Minton always has his guys ready to play ball. They’re always tough at the line of scrimmage, and they usually have four or five guys that can get the ball down the field.

Oakdale Statistics

Rushing- Solomon 21-74, Hinds 7-37, Willis 1-2, Miller 10-25, Collins 1-4, Team 1-(-1).

Passing- Miller 4-7 for 44 yards, Solomon 3-4 for 83 yards with 2 TDs.

Receiving- Tilson 1-3, D. Miller 1-9, Collins 1-31 with 1 TD, Vera 2-38, Hinds 1-51 with 1 TD, G. Miller 1-1.