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By BRIAN LANGLEY
Morgan County News
OAKDALE-Hollis Eble Field has seen its share of good times and bad times for the Oakdale football team over the years. For a whole half Friday night, Hollis Eble Field was the place for some happy Eagle fans. They were in a 14-14 deadlock with the 2007 Region 2-A Champion Midway Green Wave. However, during the next 12 minutes, Midway scored 27 straight points to pull away for a 41-21 win and avoid an upset to a vastly improved Oakdale team.
"We was right in the game with the defending region champion. We were toe-to-toe with the defending region champion and they (Midway) are going to be in the mix again this year," explained Oakdale offensive coordinator J.R. Voyles.
"The kids are starting to believe in this and they are starting to see us turn a corner. Oakdale football is on the way up."
Early on it appeared the Green Wave (2-1, 1-0 in Region 2-A) were in for an easy game. Midway's Ray Robinson scored on a five-yard run to cap the first drive and teammate Will Poe electrified the Green Wave crowd with an 80-yard touchdown run down the Midway sideline for a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
"In prior years and in past seasons, I've seen where a 14 nothing game is mailed in. Our kids have a great resolve about them and we've got kids with some character," said Voyles.
Oakdale was down, but they weren't out. Sophomore quarterback D.J Currier directed a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive with Currier hitting Ryan Young for a beautiful 40-yard touchdown pass across the field. Korbin Turner took a bad snap and powered his way into the end zone for a two-point run to slice the lead to 14-8.
"Ryan Young and Ryan Powers made two exceptional catches on the first scoring drive. On the first play we scored on, Ryan Young made an exceptional catch over on the visiting sideline and fought his way into the end zone. D.J. (Currier) threw the ball about 60 yards in the air. It was a big play for us," said Voyles.
Currier then led the Eagles on another scoring trip later in the half when they marched 80 yards in 10 plays with Currier finding Isaiah Turner for a 5-yard scoring toss. Currier hit Young for a couple of passes covering 27 yards and Currier also found Ryan Powers for an 18-yard pass to highlight the drive. Turner's PAT missed right, but the Eagles were tied with Midway at 14 heading into the half.
"On our second scoring drive, it was somewhat of our hurry up offense. We got the ball with about three minutes and we drove 85 yards in three minutes against a solid defensive team," offered Voyles.
"When we scored that second touchdown there was some excitement in the crowd. We had an exceptional crowd and ours was up and rocking and you looked across the way and Midway was sitting on their hands and that is a good feeling as a coach. The big touchdown right before the half, I sure would have liked to had that extra point and had the lead at the half. That would have been pretty big for our kids."
Midway scored on all four third quarter possessions to put some distance between them and Oakdale. Robinson scored on runs of 16 and 51 yards, while Quenton Pressley hit Poe for a 50-yard screen pass for six and Pressley added a 29-yard touchdown run to build a 41-14 lead.
"We went at half-time and we made some corrections that we thought were there. We came out and just couldn't get it going again there in the second half, and Midway did an exceptional job of just taking it to us in the second half. In the third quarter we just kind of fell off the tracks a little bit," said Voyles.
Late in the game, Currier and Turner hooked up again with a 19-yard scoring strike. Turner's PAT sliced the final deficit to 41-21.
"They (Midway) jumped on us early, but the kids showed a lot of resolve hanging in there and came back and was able to move the ball on them and get a couple of touchdowns," said Voyles.
Midway's 345-yard rushing effort was led by the senior trio of Ray Robinson (11-133, 3 TD), Will Poe (5-113, 1 TD) and Quenton Pressley (8-65, 1 TD). Pressley was 3-10 for 83 yards and 1 touchdown through the air. Poe (1-50, 1 TD) and Steven Blasko (2-33) hauled in the passes for the Green Wave.
Oakdale's 252-yard offensive effort was led by QB D.J. Currier (14-25 for 193 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT passing, 4-13 rushing). Ryan Young (4-93, 1 TD), Isaiah Turner (5-54, 2 TD) and Ryan Powers (4-43) were the leading receivers. Isaiah Turner (6-19) and Korbin Turner (6-15) led the ground game.
"We're shooting for balance. Its a bonus to have a passing game in the arsenal. We attempted 25 passes and we run it 24 times, you can't be much more balanced as far as play calling is concerned. I thought we left some yards on the field running the ball that we didn't get," said Voyles.
The starting offensive line of Daniel Underwood, Jacob Helton, Storm Johnson, Jonathan Mathis and Reid Cannon got praise from their offensive coach.
"Pass blocking, our line did a real fine job. We had one sack on 25 pass attempts. I'm really proud of the offensive line. They gave D.J. (Currier) some time," said Voyles.
Oakdale's defense was led by Jake Eddleman (11 tackles, 3 behind the line, 1 sack), Korbin Turner (7 tackles), Isaiah Turner (6 tackles, 2 behind the line, 1 sack), Jonathan Watts (6 tackles), Jacob Helton (5 tackles), Kevin Jackson (5 stops), Jordan Hall (5 stops), Jonathan Mathis (4 tackles) and Reid Cannon (4 stops).
Oakdale (1-1) hits the road for the first time this season when they travel to Karns this Friday to face #6-ranked Grace Christian Academy (2-0).
"They (Grace) like to pitch it around. They like to throw the ball quite a bit. They like to spread it out. They remind me a lot of CAK. It will definitely be a big challenge for us, but we're ready to go on the road and take it to them," said Voyles.