For more than three quarters Friday night, it looked as though Oakdale’s 51-game district losing streak was coming to a halt. However, Jellico scored twice in a two-minute span to erase a deficit early in the fourth quarter that propelled them to a 22-19 win over the Eagles on Hollis Eble Field.
The Eagles (0-5 in District 4-A, 2-7 overall) took a 13-8 lead into the final period, but two pivotal turnovers doomed the home team as they suffered their 52nd straight loss in district play.
“It was a good win for us. Any time that we can win period right now the way we are struggling,” said Jellico head coach Danny Oakes.
“Coach (J.R.) Voyles had his team ready, and they played their butts off and with a lot of heart. We appreciate playing them. It’s always a competitive game. They are kind of like us, they are trying to build. Hopefully they can close out next week and get them a win.”
Oakdale had two drives inside the 15, but came up empty both times in the heart-breaking three-point loss to the Blue Devils (1-4 in District 4-A, 2-7 overall). It was the Eagles’ second straight loss to Jellico.
The Oakdale coaches put a little more emphasis on the Jellico game during the week to try and motivate their kids to snap the losing drought in conference play, and early on it appeared to work.
“We have been talking a lot to our kids about changing the mindset and culture of Oakdale football. We really put a lot of emphasis on this game and ending the losing streak in the district. We focused on that streak this week with the kids and really played it up. I guess that is what makes it sting even more is how much focus we put on the streak. That was our decision as coaches,” Oakdale head coach J.R. Voyles explained.
“I’m really proud of this group of kids. They are fighting their tails off and they are playing their guts out. Good things are going to happen to this program, we just got to keep working. We’re going to keep chugging away at it. We’re not going anywhere.”
The Eagles came out of the gate with confidence and marched 71 yards in six plays to take the early lead. Nick Howard hit C.J. Mathis for a 15-yard scoring pass over the middle with 8:06 left in the opening quarter. Howard hit Ryan Powers for a 45-yard pass to set up the touchdown. Howard added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Jellico responded with a 12-play, 76-yard scoring drive capped by a 23-yard touchdown strike from Devin Oakes to Tyler Brummett. The Blue Devils then faked the extra point and Brummett hit Bret Voyles for the two-pointer to give them an 8-7 lead with 1:33 left in the first quarter.
Oakdale regained the lead late in the second quarter when Howard hooked up with Cody Powers for a 23-yard touchdown toss. Powers made an incredible grab over Jellico’s Nathan Overton in the end zone. Howard was stopped short on the two-point run, but the Eagles led 13-8 with 3:24 left until half-time.
Howard had a 28-yard punt return later in the second quarter to give the Eagles a golden opportunity to score again before the end of the half. They had the ball at the JHS 18, and two plays later Howard broke loose for a 13-yard run down to the one, but it was called back with a holding call. Oakdale then lost 21 yards on the next two plays, including a 20-yard sack by Jellico’s Daniel Steakley.
“Right there before the half, Nick (Howard) is tackled at the one and we get a holding penalty. We did it, I seen it. That was a tough break, we couldn’t get it punched in there right before half-time. We go in up 19-8 or 20-8, we’re in a lot better position and maybe the outcome is different,” said Voyles. The Blue Devils ran three plays before the end of the half with the Eagles up 13-8.
After a relatively well played first half, the turnover bug hit in the third quarter. The Blue Devils fumbled away their opening drive with C.J.Mathis pouncing on the pigskin for the Eagles. Oakdale’s Howard threw an interception two plays later with Overton hauling in the errant pass for the Blue Devils.
Oakdale’s defense stepped up and stopped Jellico on downs and then proceeded to move the ball from their own 39 all the way to the JHS 15 before Jellico’s Matt Huff intercepted a pass in the end zone on a 4th-down-and-14 to thwart the drive.
Three plays later, Jellico was faced with a 3rd-and-12, and Oakes hooked up with his favorite receiver Overton on a nifty pass and catch along the right sideline, and the speedster raced 82 yards for six. Oakes hit Brummett for the two-point pass to give them a 16-13 lead with 10:37 left in the game.
“We’re still up 13-8 early in the fourth quarter and got them backed up. It was third and long on their own 18-yard line when they hit that long pass. He sticks it in between two guys we had right there on it and just threaded the needle and the kid spun out of a tackle and was gone to the races. That was disheartening at the point, because we had played so hard and then one break really threw the momentum way on their favor,” Voyles said.
“They dink and dunk us all night long, but the one big play really put us in a bind.”
Oakes agreed it was a huge play for the Blue Devils and a very good throw by his son Devin Oakes.
“One play down here he (Devin Oakes) threaded the needle on that one, that was a great throw. He played well tonight. He ran the ball real hard and he is a senior and that is what he should do. It really gave us some confidence,” Oakes commented.
Disaster struck again for the Eagles when a high snap went back 16 yards and Jellico’s Steakley recovered it at the Oakdale 20. The Blue Devils built their lead to 22-13 four plays later when Oakes and Overton hooked up for a two-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone with 8:21 left in the game.
The Eagles took advantage of a Jellico turnover (Andrew Reynolds recovered a fumble) later in the fourth quarter. They went 60 yards in five plays for their third touchdown of the game on a 6-yard pass from Howard to Powers. Howard hit Reynolds for a big 37-yard pass to set up the touchdown. Howard’s two-point run failed, but Oakdale closed the gap to 22-19 with 3:24 left in the game.
“We battled back and got it stuck in the end zone, and was right back with them, but we just run out of time,” Voyles said.
Jellico was able to milk the clock of two minutes before they gave the Eagles the ball back on downs with 1:26 left. Oakdale fired four passes to no avail as Jellico escaped with a 22-19 victory.
“We had some adversity there at the end with a couple of turnovers that hurt us, but we’re just glad to get the win,” Oakes said.
The Blue Devils used a 253-218 edge in total yards and a 3-2 advantage in turnovers to notch the win to snap a five-game losing streak.
“Oakdale ran the ball pretty well on us there. We was a little bit concerned whether we was going to be able to stop their run game, but at the same time, we were able to run the ball inside a little bit with our quarterback which helped us tremendously,” said Oakes.
Oakdale’s 218-yard offensive attack was led QB Nick Howard (7-23 for 141 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT passing). Ryan Powers (2-45), Andrew Reynolds (1-37), C.J. Mathis (2-30, 1 TD) and Cody Powers (2-29, 2 TD) were the top targets. Jaron Morrow (11-67) and Powers (11-23) helped the Eagles to 77 rushing yards.
“Cody (Powers) is coming on as a receiver. A lot of that comes with confidence and him getting a little more size on his frame. He is one of those type kids that you really love to have around your program. He shows up and works and gets the job done,” said Voyles.
Jellico’s 253-yard offensive effort was led by senior QB Devin Oakes (12-21 for 141 yards, 3 TD passing, 16-59 rushing). Nathan Overton (10-121, 2 TD) and Tyler Brummett (2-20, 1 TD) were the leading receivers. Ryan Irwin (7-40) helped the Blue Devils rush for 112 yards.
“We felt like coming in that they had the potential with their skill kids to hit us with a big play. For the most part the defense did well limiting those plays. They hurt us with the QB run a few times, and in short yardage situations,” Voyles quipped.
“I put it on the coaches. We didn’t coach them up to get in the proper techniques on the defensive line. That is on us. We got to do a better job at explaining what we’re wanting them to do. We were leaving a gap open, and they were making the checks to it, and it was simple single wing type football, snap it to a back and let him go.”