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By GOOSE LINDSAY
Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the opponent and say maybe next time.
That was the case at Harriman Friday night as Travis Tapp’s Blue Devils dropped a 21-0 decision against No. 5 ranked Oneida Indians.
“Oneida’s ranked No. 5 in the state and they deserve it,” Harriman head coach Travis Tapp said after his squad dropped to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in Region 2-A play. “They’ve got a good football team and they didn’t make a lot of mistakes. Our kids fought hard, but we made a few mistakes at critical times. You can’t make mistakes if you want to beat Oneida.”
Oneida’s only big mistake came early as Harriman’s Dimitrique Inman intercepted a Torrey Slaven pass on the game’s opening play to give the Blue Devils excellent field position at the Indian 35.
Harriman would drive the ball to the Indian 16, but the drive would stall then Parker Freeman’s 34-yard field goal would just miss wide left.
The two teams would then exchange punts, but Oneida (8-0, 4-0) gained 32 yards in field position on the punts as Oneida’s Holden Woods boomed a punt that netted 59 yards while Harriman’s punt netted 32 yards.
The change in field position led to Oneida’s first touchdown of the night as the Indians put together an eight-play, 41-yard drive that ended in a three-yard run from Houston Hood that made the score 7-0 with 11:51 to play in the first half.
Oneida would make it 14-0 on their next possession as the Indians drove 70 yards in 14 plays before Hood dove into the end zone from one yard out on fourth down.
Harriman’s offense struggled to move the ball in the first half as the Blue Devils had just one first down and 33 yards of total offense at halftime.
Harriman, however, made some adjustments at halftime and seemed destined to make things interesting.
The Blue Devils opened the second half on offense and put together an eight-play, 57-yard drive and they were on the verge of scoring when QB Travis Gann was stripped of the ball while he was going into the end zone.
“That play was huge,” Tapp said. “We had the momentum and it looked like Travis was going to score. But we made a mistake and they made us pay.”
Oneida’s next possession pretty much ended any hopes of a Harriman comeback as the Indians marched 98 yards 12 plays with Slaven scoring from two yards out to make the score 21-0 with 1:37 left to play in the third period.
Slaven also came up with the big play of the drive when he completed a 51-yard pass on third-and-eight to get Oneida out of the hole.
Harriman would reach the red zone again late in the fourth quarter thanks to a 64-yard run from Diego Martin, but the drive ended when backup QB Mark Chesser was sacked on fourth down at the Indian 10.
Oneida out gained Harriman 244-218 on the night in total yardage.
The Indians would run the ball 47 times for 184 yards while Slaven was two of three through the air for 60 yards.
Harriman ran the ball 30 times for 174 yards and the Devils completed five of 14 passes for 44 yards.
Things won’t get any easier for Harriman this week as the Blue Devils host Midway (5-2, 3-1) in a key Region 2-A game at Wallace-Black Field.
Rushing- Chesser 2-(-2), Inman 5-5, Williams 8-22, Anderson 3-17, Gann 7-40, Cruze 3-23, Martin 2-69.
Passing- Chesser 1-5 for 13 yards, Gann 4-9 for 31 yards.
Receiving- Cruze 2-19, Martin 1-4, Inman 2-21.