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FHS rips ‘Jacqueless’ Owls; Dawgs seek revenge, playoff style, at Bill Clabo Field

OOLTEWAH — Old-fashioned football did the trick to defeat a nemesis on enemy soil during opening-round playoff action.

Led by the tough and elusive running of senior standout DeAndre Purty, Farragut’s rushing attack carried the day in the second half against No. 4 seed and previously No. 1-state ranked Ooltewah (9-2).

Meanwhile, the Admirals’ defense held the state’s No. 5-ranked Owls to only one first down in the second half until the final two minutes, coming home with a 24-7 Class 6A victory at OHS’s James N. Monroe Stadium.

“Coach [Eddie Courtney] was talking to us how they’ve rarely won here, and he just told us to come out and execute and play hard for our seniors,” said Purty, whose No. 5-seeded Ads, ranked No. 7 in Class 6A, improve to 9-2.

“This might have been our last game — that’s what motivated us — and we have fun playing together and we don’t want that to end,” Purty added.

Courtney, FHS head coach, said of Purty and the ground game, “We felt like we had to make a statement in this game. … It’s playoff time, and we need to learn to run the football and get physical, and we did that.

“I can’t say enough, first of all, about DeAndre,” Courtney added. “I mean that young man, tonight, he’s playing but he’s tired, he’s had a lot of personal things he’s had to deal with in recent weeks.

“But it took the offensive line having to get a good push. That’s a good, physical football team.”

Next up is a second-round home game versus archrival and No. 8-seed Bearden (9-2), the fourth time in five years the teams have met in post-season. Opening Kickoff is 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13.

Farragut had lost four of its last five games to Ooltewah dating back to 2006 — twice last year including a season-ending loss in state quarterfinals at OHS.

Ooltewah played without senior defensive end/tight end Jacques Smith, the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder named Tennessee Mr. Football Lineman in Class 5A for 2008 and Tennessee Vols commitment. Smith was suspended one game for disciplinary reasons.

Purty said, “I was kinda disappointed we couldn't play with their best [player]. Jacques wasn't there. Last year he was the person that hurt us the most.

“I wanted to redeem myself against a full team.”

Defensively, FHS senior defensive end Greg Grieco said, “It was just purely, like, intensity, coming out hard and wanting to win this game so bad — that’s all it came down to. We’re the same defense we’ve been all season long, but this game we came out harder than ever.”

Courtney singled out praise for his defensive line — also end Gabe White and nose guards Tyler Bradley and Zach Simmons.

“We challenged the defense the second half. ‘You’ve got to suck it up and go and you’ve just got to get out there and play harder than you’ve played,’ and they did that.”

Tied 7-7 at halftime, Purty got things going quickly in the third quarter by returning the kickoff 41 yards to the FHS 47.

With fellow running back Taino Perez mixing in key runs, Farragut marched to the OHS 11 without a single pass attempt.

Senior kicker Christian Ponce nailed a 28-yard field goal for a 10-7 FHS lead with 5:09 left in the third quarter.

Four plays later, after yet another Farragut defensive stop, the Admirals would go 71 yards to paydirt.

Farragut’s passing attack found more Ooltewah DBs than Admirals receivers in the first half, as FHS senior quarterback Reese Browning completed just 1-of-11 for 32 yards with two interceptions.

But the combination of Browning and speedy senior receiver Lee Van Dyne came up big on this drive. Van Dyne hauled in a sideline pass, turned upfield and turned on the after-burners. He went untouched on a 55-yard TD scamper down the right sideline, making it 17-7 Ads with 1:17 left in the third.

Hits by senior defensive back Nathan Gibson, minus-1 yard, followed by a 14-yard sack by Grieco left Ooltewah in a deep hole.

“We knew that they didn’t have much confidence in their quarterback and that they were going to try to run over us,” Gibson said of OHS senior Brady Reed, who started off hot in the first quarter before cooling off quickly. “Once we stopped the run we knew the game was in our hands.”

Gibson sacked Reed for minus-6 in the second quarter.

The Ads polished off its conquest with a 62-yard TD march.

Purty broke loose up the gut for 44 yards before Van Dyne’s 9-yard catch left FHS fourth-and-1 at the Owls 11. Purty got the yard before Perez took it home from eight yards out with 2:04 to play.

“When we don’t get our blocks the running backs, they run their hearts out and they keep their feet moving and go for the end zone every play,” FHS junior center Bobby Fricks said. “We just try to drive people off the ball and give them a hole.”

Browning’s one first-half completion, a 32-yarder to Van Dyne, preceded Purty’s 33-yard run to begin Farragut’s 71-yard, three-play scoring march on its second possession of the game.

Landing at the OHS 6 after the two big plays, Hudson slid off left tackle and scored from 6 yards out. The Ads led 7-0 with 5:54 left in the opening quarter.

An errant Reed throw in the first quarter was intercepted by Jacob Johnson at the FHS 20 and returned 39 yards to the OHS 41.

Ooltewah’s opening drive of the game took the home team from its 20 to the FHS 36. But Devin Ishak’s interception along the sideline ended the march.

Grieco also had a minus-4 tackle, while White and junior linebacker Brooks Harper combined for a minus-1 sack. Harper also stopped a run for minus-1.

“We had a great week of practice and we were really focused ... we wanted some payback from last year,” White said.

Simmons had a minus-2 stop and a minus-1 sack.
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