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Oak Ridge falls to Summit in state championship

The Wildcats offense couldn’t stay on the field in Friday night’s 28-7 loss to the Spartans.
Oak Ridge
Oak Ridge(WVLT)
Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 7:38 PM EST
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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - It simply wasn’t in the cards for Oak Ridge in the program’s first state championship appearance since 2005 Friday night.

The Wildcats got off to a slow start and didn’t play very complementary football throughout its 5A state title game with Summit.

The Spartans received the opening kickoff, drove the field on its first drive and never looked back. Here’s a look back at what happened during the 28-7 loss to Summit:

FIRST QUARTER

Most Oak Ridge players were toddlers the last time the Wildcats made the state championship in 2005 - a 14-7 loss to Ravenwood.

The Wildcats had been playing outstanding defense of late and needed to continue that trend Friday evening to contain a Summit squad that was putting up 33.9 points per game headed into the championship game.

Summit’s offense and Mr. Football finalist Destin Wade had the first crack at things Friday night. Wade, a junior, is a three-star dual threat quarterback who has offers from at least one school from every Power 5 conference aside from the ACC.

From midfield, Summit successfully aired things out to pin Oak Ridge in its own end zone, then scored on goal to go a few plays later to take a quick 7-0 lead.

Oak Ridge couldn’t get anything going on its first possession and was forced to punt the ball back to Summit after just three plays and negative yardage. Summit quickly marched across midfield again and took a two possession lead on a Wade pass to Brady Pierce from 16 yards out. Summit’s second drive took just five plays and 97 seconds to go 64 yards for a touchdown.

Oak Ridge couldn’t pick up a first down on its second drive of the game, giving the ball back to Summit after just three plays and 1:36 taken off the game clock.

On its only two drives of the first frame, the Wildcats could muster just two three-and-outs. Oak Ridge ended the first quarter with -1 yard of offense.

Summit held onto the ball with a two score lead as the second quarter started.

SECOND QUARTER

Oak Ridge’s defense was finally able to get off the field on Summit’s third drive of the game, but again weren’t helped at all by the offense. After taking over at its own 35 yard line, Oak Ridge managed just three yards on three plays and were forced to punt back to the Spartans again after just 64 seconds.

Summit put together a subsequent seven play, 61-yard drive that ended with another Wade rushing touchdown to put the Spartans up 21-0 with 5:48 to play in the first half.

Oak Ridge’s first first down of the game didn’t come until late in the 2nd quarter after a roughing the passer penalty moved the chains across midfield. The Wildcats followed that up with another first down - this time a pass from Mitchell Gibbons to freshman Brandon Heyward that stretched into Summit territory.

Oak Ridge junior running back Kendall Jackson was called on twice with goal to go and got to within inches of the end zone before Joe Gaddis called a timeout on third and goal. Oak Ridge tried to sneak quarterback Mitchell Gibbons across the line, but the play coming out of the timeout was flagged for a false start, backing the Wildcats up to the Summit six yard line. Gibbons’ third down bootleg fell short of the end zone and Oak Ridge was forced to take another timeout to draw up a 4th down play. After coming out of the huddle in an empty shotgun set, Summit elected for a timeout itself. The Spartans were flagged for encroachment that advanced the ball to the three yard line where Gibbons was able to connect with Heyward for Oak Ridge’s first and only touchdown of the game.

The grab by the freshman pulled Oak Ridge within two scores with 1:26 to play in the first half.

The Wildcat defense stepped up in a big way following the score. Oak Ridge forced its first Summit three-and-out and was able to run one more offensive play before the half.

Oak Ridge headed into the locker room down 21-7.

THIRD QUARTER

Oak Ridge received the second half kickoff, but wasn’t able to make much of the opportunity, punting back to Summit after just six plays and 11 yards gained. The Wildcats punted back to Summit and got the ball back almost immediately thanks to a Cole Adams fumble recovery at the Summit 48 yard line.

FOURTH QUARTER

Still down by just two scores, Oak Ridge started to take some shots downfield early in the fourth quarter. Mitchell Gibbons tried to find a receiver over the middle, but was intercepted by Brady Pierce, who added a pick-six to his first half receiving touchdown to put Summit back up by three scores.

The Oak Ridge offense was able to start its drive in good field position for most of the night: the Wildcats average starting field position was their own 40 yard line in the first half.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Summit was able to take away Oak Ridge’s running game - and in doing so - the Wildcat offense was thrown off-kilter. Gibbons went 15-for-34 for 121 yards and an interception that resulted in a Summit touchdown early in the 4th quarter.

Oak Ridge wasn’t able to break off big chunks of yardage against Summit Friday - the Wildcats’ longest play was a 25-yard pass from Gibbons to Stewart on the team’s second-to-last drive of the game.

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