OAK RIDGE --- Hardin Valley Academy football coach Wes Jones didn’t take much solace in the fact that his young Hawks nearly pulled off a comeback Friday night.
Sure, he was pleased HVA had a chance to tie a tough Oak Ridge squad late. But what loomed and hurt him most, was the fact the Hawks simply made too many mistakes to beat the Wildcats, who also made plenty of errors on this night.
“We looked like a team that played five seniors tonight,” Jones said after Hardin Valley came up on the short end of a 21-20 decision before a packed house at Blankenship Field.
“But I’m not making any
excuses. There are no excuses for this.
“We had a chance to tie the game late, but we couldn’t execute and we had a lot of penalties and we had too many mistakes on plays that we had to make. We work on those things in practice and we have to make those plays.”
The Hawks (0-1), who never led in the 2017 season opener for both teams, scored a late touchdown when senior offensive lineman Colby Green recovered a teammate’s fumble in the end zone with 21.5 seconds left in
the game. Green’s fumble recovery pulled Hardin Valley to
within 21-20, but the Hawks would miss the subsequent extra point and fail to recover an
onside kick on the ensuing kickoff.
The Hawks were obviously disappointed after the game but junior Luke DeFur said they must recover quickly before playing their home opener against longtime rival West High on Friday night.
“We can’t sulk over this game,” DeFur said. “We can’t afford to.
“We have to continue and grow and bond as a team.”
Oak Ridge (1-0) took an early lead when senior quarterback Johnny Stewart connected with Caleb Martin on a 59-yard scoring strike with 10:19 remaining in the first quarter.
Hardin Valley pulled even midway through the second quarter when Aaron Dykes had a 30-yard scoring scamper.
Dykes, a senior, rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns. But he had another touchdown run nullified by a penalty. That potential score would have given the Hawks a lead late in the third stanza.
He also had another long run called back in the game. The Hawks fumbled after a long
kickoff return following Oak Ridge’s final touchdown midway through the third frame.
While HVA’s offense sputtered at times, its defense had a pair of fumble recoveries early in the third quarter.
One led to an 8-yard scoring plunge by Dykes, which knotted the game at 14.
The Wildcats regained the lead for good on Stewart’s second touchdown pass of the game. Running back Tyrell Romano also had a short touchdown run for the Wildcats just before halftime.
Like Jones, Oak Ridge head coach Joe Gaddis said his team has plenty to room to improve.
“We have a young offensive line and we need to grow up, and grow up quickly,” he said.
“We’re just happy to get a win over a good team like Hardin Valley.
“They’re a good team.”