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Taming an ex-nemesis
Ads manhandle Oak Ridge for fourth straight series win; Irish next at FHS

FHS defenders Jacob Johnson (26) Gabe White (99) bring down ORHS quarterback Bradley Zulliger.- Carlos Reveiz/
OAK RIDGE — A few defensive adjustments plus a couple of offensive tweaks, and four years of Farragut football domination versus Oak Ridge was complete.

Though the Wildcats raced down the field for a touchdown on its first possession Friday night, Aug. 28, at Blankenship Field, it would be OR’s only visit to the end zone.

The Ads took charge in the second quarter and, sparked by a second-half kickoff return, went on to rout OR in the Wildcats’ season opener 32-7.

“Being a little kid watching Oak Ridge play Farragut, [ORHS] was always dominating, they always looked like a huge powerhouse, and we couldn’t even compete with them,” said Lee Van Dyne, FHS senior receiver who’s part of a senior class having never lost to the Wildcats in this annual rivalry (4-0). “And now, I’ve gone out here and never lost to them, and just it feels amazing.”

Gabe White, senior defensive end who led FHS with six total tackles, said he also “remembers watching Farragut play them” as a child “thinking they were a big rival. And it just feels good to know it’s now four times in a row.”

Farragut (2-0 record) turned the game around after an interception, and used long touchdown runs from DeAndre Purty and Van Dyne and plus a Reese Browning to David Allen touchdown pass to take charge in the second half.

Purty, with limited work in the second half, still contributed three TDs while rushing 10 times for 72 yards. FHS won the total yards battle, 360-266.

But to open the game, Oak Ridge used quick passes near the line of scrimmage and short downfield timing tosses as the vital element in going 80 yards in 12 plays — energizing the Blankenship Field home crown quickly.

“I think our [defensive] line may have been a little too aggressive in flying upfield and they were running stuff underneath us, between the linebackers and us,” White said.

Meanwhile, the Admirals wasted good field position on its first two possessions — at the FHS 43 and Admirals 45 — failing to get a first down during the opening 12 minutes.

About the FHS offensive line early-on, junior center Bobby Fricks said, “The first couple of series we were making our blocks, but we weren’t firing off the ball as well as we should have been. It was little bit sloppy.

“Around the third series, we started polishing things up and really just getting our blocks and firing off the ball and hitting.”

A Taino Perez interception late in the first quarter set up the tying score and seemed to change the game. The FHS junior defensive back picked off a deep pass at midfield and returned it down the left sideline to the Wildcat 25.

A 16-yard Allen reception over the middle preceded Purty’s 9-yard touchdown run around the left side. Christian Ponce added the conversion, tying the game 7-7 at the 6:32 mark of the half.

About the Ads’ increased success passing, Braden Urevick, sophomore receiver, said, “We started noticing the cover-3 coverage. ... they played real soft ... We started hitting quicker passes.

“And the deeper passes were working, the safeties were moving over so we could hit some deeper passes to David Allen.”

Allen ended with six receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown, while Browning was 12-of-21 passing for 106 yards and one TD.

About OR’s short passing game, FHS outside linebacker Devin Ishak said, “We prepared for that, we knew it was coming. But I think they just came out a little more fired up than us, this being our second game and it being their first.”

Devin Hartmann, Farragut senior defensive back, referred to “a couple of mistakes” that he and his fellow defensive backs worked out by “talking to each other ... we’ve got a good flow together.”

It took Farragut just two plays to tally six more points. Allen hauled in a 32-yard post pattern pass, then Purty finished off the final 27 yards. Breaking through congestion at the 25, Purty got a couple of good downfield blocks and made it 13-7 with 4:35 left in the half.

An Oak Ridge kickoff penalty apparently was extremely costly to begin the third quarter.

Pushed back to its 35 due to offsides, the OR special teams kickoff went to Purty at the 8. The senior standout found a seam up middle, cut to the right sideline at the FHS 45 and easily out-ran the ORHS kicker on a 92-yard TD return.

Farragut marched 53 yards in six plays to build a 19-point lead, highlighted by a 20-yard Chris Bass run and ending with Allen’s 19-yard scoring catch making it 26-7 with 8:10 left in the third.

Van Dyne came in as the “Wildcat” quarterback and promptly electrified the FHS crowd. The senior took a shotgun snap, went up the gut then cut outside on a 71-yard TD run making it 32-7 midway into the third quarter.

Farragut’s four consecutive wins still leaves Oak Ridge with a sizeable 27-8 edge in the series.

Next up for the Admirals is a Thursday, Sept. 3, showcase showdown versus Westside rival Knoxville Catholic, defending Class 3A state champs and 1-0 in 2009 after an off week Aug. 28.

Playing each other for the first time ever according to FHS head coach Eddie Courtney, the Farragut-KCHS District 4-AAA showdown at FHS’s Bill Clabo Field kicks off at 7 p.m.
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