Ooltewah running back Desmond Pittman and his big buddies along the offensive line terrorized East Hamilton's defense Friday night. Heck, the way Pittman ran, he'd give Freddy Krueger nightmares.
Pittman ran 30 times for 264 yards and two touchdowns and the Owls remain unbeaten in the series against the neighboring Hurricanes, defeating them 28-26 in the Battle of White Oak Mountain III at Ooltewah.
Friday's game was the first in the series for Ooltewah coach Mac Bryan, and the first time the game counted in the league standings for both teams. East Hamilton moved up this year from District 6-AA to District 5-AAA.
"We've still got a long way to go," Bryan said. "It's still early. There are a lot more games to play. I think our consistency at times offensively is what we need to work on. This game lended itself to handing the ball off to number 3, and that's what we did."
And No. 3 would be Pittman, who ran over and through more Hurricanes than he ran around.
"They did a great job with him," said East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood, who was instrumental in the growth of Ooltewah's program more than a decade ago. "We talked about some things. We'd come up with something, then they'd counter with something. There were times we did a fairly poor job of tackling, too, but you could say that every game."
The teams came in looking like offensive juggernauts with a combined average of about 80 points per game. But the halftime score was 14-5, and that's with East Hamilton registering a safety and Ooltewah's Jeremia Jackson returning an interception 22 yards for a touchdown 1:28 before halftime.
The throw was in a third-and-21 situation with the 'Canes on their own 14 and out of timeouts. Still, Gatewood alluded to calling the play again in that same situation.
"That kid made a good play on the ball," Gatewood said. "Good players are going to make those kinds of things happen."
The game went back and forth between nine- and two-point leads for the Owls throughout the second half. East Hamilton caught a break when a fumbled snap led to a blocked punt late in the game.
But an offensive pass-interferrence call on Vanderbilt commitment Tre Herndon moved the ball from the 20 back to the 35, and on third-and-27, Hunter Moore's long pass was intercepted by Adrian Hall and the Owls ran off the final 28 seconds.
Edward Hayes had a 48-yard punt return for a TD for Ooltewah. Moore was 24-of-43 for 334 yards for East Hamilton, and Matt Milita ran 15 times for 78 yards and three touchdowns.
"This game had a little of everything. A crowd like this deserved something like this," Bryan said of the estimated 7,000 in attendance.
Athletic director and interim principal Jim Jarvis had the field named in his honor at halftime.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him 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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