‘Cats survive again

Oakman edges Greene County, 21-20

By JEFFERY WINBORNE, Eagle Sports Correspondent
Posted 9/15/17

OAKMAN — For the second week in a row, Oakman squeaked by with a one-point victory, this time 21-20 at home against the Greene County Tigers.

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‘Cats survive again

Oakman edges Greene County, 21-20

Posted

OAKMAN — For the second week in a row, Oakman squeaked by with a one-point victory, this time 21-20 at home against the Greene County Tigers.

The mistake-laden game saw both teams commit a combined 197 yards worth of penalties, including nine infractions for 90 yards for Oakman alone.

“When two teams get frustrated and the game’s on the line, you make stupid mistakes,” Coach Mark Hastings said after the game. “You let emotions get in to too much of the game. That’s kind of what we got caught with tonight, letting things get to us.”

The Wildcats (3-0, 2-0) won the toss and elected to receive the opening kick. However on the fourth play of the drive, Christian Hubbard fumbled, giving the Tigers possession.

After forcing a punt, Oakman took over at the Tigers’ 30-yard line. Jon Avery connected with Nick Moody twice, the first time a 15-yard gain and lastly a six-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

Greene County seemingly had no answer for the Wildcats’ defense through the first quarter and midway through the second. The Tigers were forced to punt on their first three possessions. However, toward the end of the first half, Greene County put together a 93-yard drive that ended with a 36-yard touchdown pass from KaRon Coleman to Johnarius Altman. Twice on the drive Oakman had the Tigers stopped on fourth down only to give up the first down on defensive penalties. Jeremy Hutton ran in the two-point conversion for Greene County to go up 8-7 at halftime.

After forcing a punt to start the second half, Oakman took over at their own 26-yard line. After failing to generate the “big play” for most of the night, Avery connected with Moody again, this time for a 41-yard catch and run touchdown. Malcolm Hogue ran in the two-point conversion to put the Wildcats up 15-8.

NorDarius Hubbard returned the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to the Wildcat 22-yard line. The Tigers wasted little time getting into the endzone as four plays later, Ronnie Lavender caught a six-yard pass from Coleman. Jahkil Edwards failed to convert the two-point try, leaving Oakman with a one-point, 15-14 lead.

After not allowing the Tigers to move the ball in the first half, Greene County found their rhythm and did so essentially at will in the second half against Oakman’s defense.

“They did a really good job mixing things up and we did a very poor job of carrying out our assignments,” Hastings said. “We left big gaps for them and played too passive in the secondary. But I’ve gotta give them credit, they played a heck of a game.”

Fortunately for the Wildcats, their power running back stepped up big. After taking over on their own 40, the Wildcats ran seven plays, six of them were handing the ball off to Hubbard. From the Tigers’ 10-yard line, he ran in to put the ‘Cats up 21-14. Oakman again opted to try for two, but the pass fell incomplete.

A personal foul penalty put Greene County in Oakman territory on their next possession. From their the Tigers converted two first downs as the third quarter came to a close. On third and 20 on the first play of the fourth quarter, Coleman broke loose for a 20-yard touchdown run. The Tigers, looking to take the lead, went for two. Edwards’s run came up short, leaving Oakman again with a one-point lead.

Both teams were forced to punt, and with 6:57 remaining in the game, Oakman took over looking to run out the clock. At the Greene County 30-yard line however, a mishandled snap resulted in a fumble and another turnover.

Looking to retake the lead, the Tigers came out throwing. On third and 5 from their own 43, Coleman’s pass was tipped in the secondary and Fernando Hernandez-Castillo made a diving interception to seal the victory for the Wildcats.

“We knew the game was on the line and we had to make a stop,” Hastings said of his defense’s effort on that final drive. “If we didn’t, we were going to lose. We were fortunate enough to get that tipped ball and get that interception.”

For the third week in a row, Christian Hubbard rushed for more than 100 yards. This time for 172, a touchdown and one fumble.

“He’s a bulldog. He’s going to carry the rock, and he wants it as much as I’ll give it to him. Can’t say enough about him,” Hastings added about his running back.

After going 8 of 13 passing for 80 yards and two touchdowns, Avery came out limping late in the fourth quarter. Coach Hastings says he will be sore, but expects he will be fine.

Oakman looks to stay undefeated when they travel to Pickens County next week.