CARMICHAEL — Down 42-21 at the half Saturday, Oak Ridge’s coaching staff went to work. The challenge? Slow down the Jesuit ground game — the one that had shredded the Trojan defense for 420 yards and six first-half touchdowns.
The Trojan defense came alive in the second half, holding host Jesuit scoreless while rallying to tie the game and win 45-42 in overtime. The win gives Oak Ridge (4-1 Delta River League, 9-1) the No. 3 seed for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, hosting No. 14 Napa this Friday.
“We really had to evaluate what we were doing,” said Trojan coach Eric Cavaliere. ” We installed a defensive scheme we haven’t used in about five years. We have an incredibly smart football team and they made the adjustments.”
Oak Ridge’s 74-yard second half-opening drive shifted momentum, capped by Ian Book’s 12-yard pass to Justin Priest (12 catches, 182 yards). Victor Bunce’s interception then led to a Book-to-Trent Buenzli 40-yard score. Andrew Walters PAT cut Jesuit’s lead to 42-35 as the Trojans roared back to life.
“Were a team that thrives off momentum,” Buenzli said. “Interceptions, fumbles, those things really get us fired up and when we get those momentum swings we really take advantage.”
Jesuit, meanwhile, was limited to just 156 yards of offense by the Trojans defense.
“Our biggest adjustment was really just putting guys in better positions to make plays,” said Cavaliere.
After a fourth down stop, the Trojans marched down the field to tie the game as Colton Giorgi hauled in Book’s fifth touchdown of the game. Book finished with 371 yards on 27-of-41 passing.
“Hat’s off to them (Oak Ridge),” Jesuit coach Marlon Blanton said. “Their defense really picked it up in the second half and we couldn’t do much on offense.”
Both teams had two possessions to close the game but neither could find the end zone, setting the stage for overtime. Jesuit took the first crack at scoring but its fourth down pass fell incomplete. After an incomplete pass, the Trojans ran twice for 7 yards to set up Walter’s 20-yard field goal to win it.
“This was the second big game for us in a row and a game like this we feel gives us some momentum going into the playoffs,” said Cavaliere. “To pitch a second half shutout after giving up 42 points in the first half is a testament to these kids and how they never gave up. ”
Both teams offense’s started well. Jesuit’s Ben Parietti scored on a 3-yard run but the Trojans countered with a 13-yard Drew Lackowski run to tie the game. Parietti’s 24-yard run and a 78-yard Beau Bisharat (240 yards) run gave the home team a 21-7 first quarter lead.
“I thought our offensive line did a great job blocking and giving (Ian) Book time to throw,” Cavaliere said.
In the second quarter. Oak Ridge responded as Book and Buenzli connected for a 6-yard score. Parietti scored his fourth touchdown on a 29-yard run, Priest added a 50-yard score and Jason Elenberger close the first half with a 24 yard run.
Stephen Douglas led the Trojans with 47 yards rushing and Lackowski added 36 on 10 carries. Josh Wellman added 32. The quartet of Jacob Sipes, Giorgi, Wellman and Buenzli each had three receptions for 65, 28,28 and 56 yards, respectively.