PHOTOS: Eileen Carter/Making Memories Photography
DUNLAP, Tenn.–The chills in the air were enough to send even the Pioneers packing in their overtime defeat to Sequatchie County Friday night, 21-14.
And those chills could be felt on the last play of regulation as Dylan Sanders intercepted the ball on an East Ridge possession, taking it down to the four year line. Time, though, had expired on the clock during the return, sending the Indians to overtime.
“Playoff time is just surviving and advancing,” Head coach Adam Caine said. “That interception was the most unbelievable play I’ve ever seen. I was hoping like heck that he gets in the endzone, and then he gets stopped five yards short. I just went back to feeling like I did the entire game. Thinking ‘let’s dig deep and try to make a play.'”
The Indians are not scared of late game heroics, as noted in the Warren County and South Pittsburg games earlier in the season, but they have not had to play a full four quarters in five weeks. The Indians are now used to hanging at least four touchdowns on their opponents while getting rest for their starting lineup.
An overtime game, though, doesn’t allow for much wiggle room.
“I got really nervous on that win,” Senior linebacker Kyle Cates said. “That was way too close for us. You could tell we had been doing our conditioning. I didn’t think East Ridge was too much in shape. They were kind of huffing and puffing late in that one.”
Cates, though, had his own breathing troubles late in the game as Adam Pickett returned an interception to seal the deal in overtime.
“It was a pretty awesome play,” Cates said. “I kind of had the breath knocked out of me that play, so I didn’t really get to celebrate. I was still on the ground, but I was thinking man we just won this.“
Though underdogs, the Pioneers broke open for the first score with an Eric Bennett touchdown pass to Alonzo Russell for 21 yards in the 2nd quarter. That came after a missed field goal in the 1st quarter by BJ Church.
The Indians retaliated before halftime with a 25 yard completion from Ethan Barker to Austin Stevens with about five minutes to go in the 2nd quarter. With a slim one-point lead going into halftime, the Indians beared down in a scoreless 3rd quarter before a 4-yard Ethan Barker run put the Indians up by eight.
Senior running back for the Pioneers, Traneil Moore, bounced right back about five minutes later as he dipped in from seven yards out and gained the 2-point conversion for his team, notching the score up at 14 a piece. Moore and company had all the momentum they needed.
East Ridge looked ready to take over with less than a minute left in the ballgame. Bennett, as he heaved downfield, saw the worst possible scenario play out before his eyes in the form of Dylan Sanders, the unintended target of the perfectly thrown pass. Sanders would get to the 4-yard line before he was taken down by Pioneer defenders.
He missed the newly painted checkerboard end zone, but the momentum he gained saved the Indians from the deep reaches of an upset.
As for next week, the Pioneers will be recuperating from a Thanksgiving feast while the Indians play host to perennial power Alcoa, who took down Elizabethton by a mere three points Friday night.
“I just think we’ve got to get our team’s mindset ready for it,” Cates said, referring to next week’s opponent. “We play smash mouth football, and I don’t if they’ve played any teams that have played smash mouth football.”
ERHS — 0 | 6 | 0 | 8 || 0 ||| 14
SCHS — 0 | 7 | 0 | 7 || 7 ||| 21
1st (2:58) BJ Church Missed Field Goal
Sequatchie County 0, East Ridge 0
2nd (9:50) Eric Bennett, 21-Yard Pass to Alonzo Russell [Church Kick No Good]
East Ridge 6, Sequatchie County 0
2nd (5:00) Ethan Barker, 25-Yard Pass to Austin Stevens [Martinez Kick Good]
Sequatchie County 7, East Ridge 6
4th (10:16) Ethan Barker, 4-Yard Rush [Martinez Kick Good]
Sequatchie County 14, East Ridge 6
4th (7:33) Traneil Moore, 7-Yard Rush [Moore 2-pt. Conv. Good]
Sequatchie County 14, East Ridge 14
OT (0:00) Ethan Barker, 10-Yard Rush [Martinez Kick Good]
Sequatchie County 21, East Ridge 14