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By BRIAN LANGLEY
Morgan County News
KARNS-Oakdale's high school football team is making believers out of a lot of people. The Eagles went toe-to-toe with the state's 6th-ranked team Friday night in Karns. Oakdale led Grace Christian 14-7 in the first quarter and only trailed 29-20 late in the first half before the Rams ran away and poured it on in a 61-20 victory.
"I'm proud of the boys. We played hard, but we just ran out of steam. They (Grace) just wore us down and they didn't let up," offered Eagle head coach Randy Miller.
Grace Christian Academy (3-0) piled up 566 yards of offense, forced four turnovers and rolled up the 41-point win at home against Oakdale. The Rams used their 48-man roster to their advantage as fatigue set in for the Eagles.
"We was right there in it. A lot of bright things came out of it. I know that is hard to see in a 40-point drubbing. Our kids kept their composure and they didn't sink to the level of the competition as far as the attitudes and things like that," said Oakdale offensive coordinator J.R. Voyles.
"I think the younger kids are understanding now that we need them. We've got to have some of those younger kids, that are not in the game, to step up and take some off the pressure of us, so we can withstand the flurry that we faced in the third quarter the last two weeks."
Oakdale got on the board first when they marched 61 yards in seven plays with Korbin Turner powering his way in from the two. Turner had a 22-yard run to ignite the drive, while D.J. Currier hit Ryan Young for a 32-yard pass during the drive. Turner added the extra point for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Grace responded with a 76-yard scoring drive that lasted only five plays with Phillip Hester scoring on an 18-yard run to tie the game at 7 with 4:17 left in the first quarter.
Oakdale quickly regained the lead when Isaiah Turner ripped off a 77-yard kick return to the end zone. Korbin Turner kicked the PAT for a 14-7 lead.
Grace used a 5-yard touchdown run by David Amos to tie the game at 14 late in the first quarter. The Rams built up a 29-14 advantage in the second quarter after Logan Little hit Eric Williams for a 90-yard touchdown toss and then Amos ran another score in from 22 yards out.
After an onside kick by the Rams, they were forced to punt after only three plays. The Eagles then marched right down the field against Grace and went 75 yards in six plays with Currier hitting Isaiah Turner for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Turner broke loose for a 64-yard run to set up the score. Turner's extra point failed, but the Eagles had sliced the lead to 29-20.
Grace added another score late in the half with Little finding Williams for a 6-yard scoring strike and a 35-20 half-time lead.
"We were leading for most of the first quarter. Two weeks in a row we have took on quality, quality opponents and we've stood toe-to-toe with them for half the game," said Voyles.
Little hit Mitchell Taylor for a 23-yard scoring toss to expand the lead to 41-20 early in the third quarter.
The Rams then put up 20 points in the final ten minutes to push the final margin to 61-20. Amos scored on a 20-yard run, while Hester added scoring runs of 8 and 35 yards. The last touchdown run came with just over four minutes left in the game with the Grace starters still in.
"Its unfortunate, I feel like Grace thought they had to score in the 60's. I'm really frustrated that they felt like that they had to try to demoralize us for their ranking and things like that. We had to keep older guys in there, because we couldn't put some of our young kids in that situation where we risk injury or risk getting even worse," said Voyles.
"We needed to get some of our younger guys in, because our main line guys were pretty well gassed at that point. It was an extremely long game, and at that point, we were needing a breather. They (Grace) kept the foot on the pedal and buried us and good teams will do that to you. There is also better ways of doing it, and I think they definitely went about it the wrong way."
Grace rolled up 566 yards offense with 284 coming on the ground led by the 1-2 senior punch of Phillip Hester (15-183, 3 TD) and David Amos (10-104, 3 TD). Logan Little went 12-23 for 282 yards with 3 touchdowns through the air. Eric Williams (5-147, 2 TD), Amos (5-105) and Mitchell Taylor (2-30, 1 TD) were the leading receivers for the Rams.
Oakdale's 194-yard offensive effort was led by the 1-2 rushing punch of Isaiah Turner (5-71) and Korbin Turner (13-62, 1 TD). D.J. Currier (7-18 for 69 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT passing) had a decent night at quarterback. Ryan Young (2-42), Isaiah Turner (3-15,1 TD) and Ryan Powers (2-12) were the leading receivers.
"We ask him (Isaiah Turner) to do everything and there is only so much he can do. He had a real good game," said Voyles.
"Our offensive line, all night long, was able to make some checks on the field and made adjustments on their own. The guys up front are a group we're not bragging on enough. They're doing some things that are really good up front. The offensive line has done an exceptional job of pass blocking. We still need to work a little bit on our running blocking."
Oakdale's defense was led by Ryan Young (11 tackles, 1 behind the line), Reid Cannon (7 stops, 3 behind the line, 1 sack), Isaiah Turner (6 tackles, 1 behind the line, 1 INT), Korbin Turner (6 tackles, 1 behind the line), Ryan Powers (6 stops) and Jonathan Mathis (4 tackles, 2 behind the line, 1 sack). Leland Tipton (2 tackles in the backfield), Jonathan Watts (1 stop in the backfield) and Storm Johnson (1 tackles in the backfield) each had a big play on defense for the Eagles.
Oakdale (1-2, 0-1 in Region 2-A) will host Oneida (4-0, 1-0 in Region 2-A) this Friday in an important regional clash.
"With the Indians rolling in, its definitely a big, big region game for us. For us to make the playoffs, we've got to beat one of the top end teams to have a chance at the playoffs. We're not going to look by Oneida and chalk it up as a loss, we're going to go in and battle with them," said Voyles.
"We knew this stretch with Midway, Grace and Oneida was brutal, especially with a team our size. If we get through one more week, we get back into some games where we can compete again. We feel like we have got a real good shot at picking up some more wins."