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FHS defense tough at Ooltewah
Anemic offense dooms Ads in state ‘8’ setback


CHATTANOOGA — Offensively, Farragut’s lack of production against Ooltewah – 84 yards — mirrored its blowout regular season loss to the Owls.

But defensively, the Admirals packed quite a punch this time and gave the Ooltewah faithful one hoot of scare at chilly OHS during the Class 5A state quarterfinals Friday, Nov. 21.

Despite holding Ooltewah to 223 yards total offense, two late OHS drives — and one gift touchdown — provided enough cushion for the Owls to beat FHS 14-7.

“I was really proud of the way those guys played tonight, because we knew we had to do that just to keep these guys contained as good as they were,” FHS head coach Eddie Courtney said.


“To bounce back from four weeks ago when they really rubbed our nose in it [31-3], we played hard tonight.”

Ending its season 11-2, Farragut lost in state quarterfinal play for the fourth consecutive season (second at Ooltewah). The Owls improve to 12-1 and host Oakland in the 5A semifinals.

OOLTEWAH 14 FHS 7

Matthew Polk, OHS senior running back, churned out 63 of his 152 rushing yards on his team’s game-winning drive.

Ooltewah began an 85-yard, 13-play drive on the last play of the third quarter. It ended with Polk’s 1-yard TD run with 6:50 to play, breaking a 7-7 tie.

One of Polk’s seven carries on that drive — 35 for the game — was a 28-yard scamper to the FHS 14.

A Sammy Seamster interception with 6:26 remaining put Ooltewah at its own 45, where they began successfully milking the clock.

Seven Polk runs, including a 17-yarder, highlighted this march that reached the FHS 5 before OHS missed a short field goal with only 26.5 seconds to play.

Before two late completions by Farragut quarterback Reese Browning in those final seconds, reaching the FHS 42 as time ran out, the Admirals managed only one first down.

“Offensively, we couldn’t get a play in the second half to get us ignited,” Courtney said.

Forcing an OHS fumble near midfield in the first quarter that went nowhere, Farragut made hay with David Allen’s 50-yard return of an interception off a deflected pass that went high into the air. Allen took the deflection at the FHS 48 and raced 50 yards down the right sideline to the OHS 2.

It took four Browning quarterback sneaks, but the junior Admiral finally pushed his way to paydirt from a half-yard out on the first play of the second quarter. Christian Ponce converted the point for a 7-0 FHS lead.

Though Farragut struggled offensively in the first half — 12 yards total offense — the Owls reached FHS territory only once in the first 24 minutes (Ad 48).

“Our defense has a lot of heart,” FHS senior linebacker Jonathan Moskal said. “You know, I love every single person on our defense, and I know all 11 people on that defense gave it their all.”

Helping keep Ooltewah in check were two minus-yardage stops by FHS defensive end Derek Harper, three minus yardage hits from linebacker Austin Bolen, including a minus-9 hit and quarterback sack (assisted by nose guard Greg Grieco), a minus-6 sack by Danny Vest and minus-yardage stops by linebacker Terry Wheatley and defensive end Gabe White.

Wheatley led FHS in unassisted tackles with 11 followed by senior linebacker Alex Encarnacion with nine and Bolen six. “Mentally and physically I think we were ready, it was just a few plays the other way,” Encarnacion said.

The Owls and QB Brady Reed managed just 37 yards passing (7-of-14, one interceptoin).

But the Ads returned Ooltewah’s first-half turnover-turned-touchdown gift to begin the third quarter. Browning was hit setting up to pass, and the fumble was recovered by OHS at the Ad 5.

Polk scored on fourth-and-goal from the FHS 1 with 10:20 left in the third quarter.

Farragut’s initial first down of the game came on a 32-yard Browning-to-Allen completion to the FHS 46 with 1:34 left in the third quarter.

Browning and the Farragut passing game managed just 81 total yards (10-of-21, two interceptions), while the combined rushing efforts of Admirals running backs DeAndre Purty and Montre Hudson netted just 10 yards on nine attempts (three net yards rushing as a team).

“I know everybody on offense, all 11 of them, gave it their all,” Moskal said. “Our team has so much heart, and I think next year this team’s going to do great things.”

 

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