ONEIDA, Tenn. — After last week, Boyd-Buchanan's Buccaneers knew their road to the Class 2A state-championship game would take winning on the road along the way.
"It really doesn't matter where we play, but I kind of like going on the road, as long as it's not too far," Bucs quarterback Jim Cardwell said.
They won't have to go as far next week, but they will be traveling because their season remains alive after a 21-6 victory Friday night over Oneida.
Boyd-Buchanan (11-1) will play next Friday at Knoxville's Grace Christian, which defeated Silverdale Baptist Academy 28-20.
The Bucs had the opening possession and marched the ball from their 25 to the Indians' 37 before punting. Cardwell was 4-for-4 on the drive, which ran the clock down to 4:26 before the Indians took over at their 10.
The first score came at 10:18 of the second quarter with Cardwell hitting Chase Miller in the end zone from 14 yards.
Eventually, showing Oneida (9-2) a passing game loosened things and Boyd-Buchanan turned to its ground game. Running back Rance Harden wound up with 131 yards on 26 carries and Cardwell added 120 on 14 rushes.
"Being able to run the football and control the clock is probably your best defense," Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds said. "We played our best defense tonight."
The first half ended 7-0, but the Indians moved 80 yards in seven plays with the first possession of the second half. The first play was a 53-yard run by fullback Trevor Allen.
"That's going to happen against a 9-1 team," Reynolds said.
Stephen Ingram managed to preserve the lead by knifing through and blocking the extra point. Reynolds said it was something the Bucs had worked on in practice and thought had an opportunity to do.
Perhaps Boyd-Buchanan's most pivotal possession of the night came next. The Bucs answered the TD with 12-play, 70-yard scoring drive, capped by Cardwell's 11-yard touchdown pass to Grant Mathis, who was wrapped up along the right sideline and stretched the ball over the goal line.
They were 2-for-2 on third downs that possession and 7-for-11 in the game.
"We always call third down the money down," said Cardwell, who praised the offensive linemen. "If you keep getting third downs it's devastating to a defense and the more tired they get."
Harden scored on a 6-yard run with 7:23 to play and Caleb Antwine followed with his third extra point before putting his fourth kickoff in the end zone.
Sixty-nine of the Indians' 83 passing yards came during the two possessions they had afterward, the last ending with Miller's interception in the end zone with 40 seconds remaining.
"They made a few plays," Reynolds said, "but we hung tough and kept fighting."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.