The only thing that stymied Ooltewah's football team Friday night at Brainerd was the weather.
After an hour-and-23-minute lightning delay four plays into the game, the Owls returned to the field and scored touchdowns on their first four possessions and rolled to a 42-2 victory over the Panthers in the high school season opener for both teams.
Ooltewah's first touchdown came on the possession it started before lightning began flashing around the field. The stands were evacuated and a light rain fell during much of the delay, which began with 10:43 showing on the first-quarter clock.
"It looked like we handled it pretty well," Ooltewah first-year coach Mac Bryan said of the delay. "I didn't know how that was going to go."
The Owls' first score covered 11 yards with quarterback Brody Binder connecting with wide receiver Mike Williams on an underneath route. Then they turned things over to running back Desmond Pittman.
Pittman had the TDs on the next three possessions on runs covering 5, 2 and 36 yards. Despite being the one tackled in his own end zone for Brainerd's points, which came 5:41 before halftime, he finished the first half with 114 yards on 12 carries and added a yard on one carry after halftime.
Bryan said he thought the Owls' offensive linemen played well.
"I'm very pleased with their progress," the coach said. "And it's nice having a back like Pittman to block for."
Ooltewah extended its lead to 40 points by halftime, getting a 79-yard scoring pass from Binder to Anthony Turner before Nick Putman blocked a punt and returned it 23 yards 1:10 before the break. Binder's 117 passing yards were all in the first half.
The Owls totaled 237 yards from scrimmage in the first half and 10 first downs. Meanwhile, the defense was limiting the Panthers to 16 yards of offense and two first downs.
"I thought the defense played exceptional," Bryan said. "They've got some good team speed over there.
"We got a chance to play one under the lights, but I believe you improve more from your first game to your second game. We've got a few things to tidy up. We've got a great opponent coming in next week in Siegel."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
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.
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