Notre Dame’s Kareem Orr quickly dismissed the notion that he can do nearly everything on a football field. The evidence in the Fighting Irish’s 34-20 road victory over East Ridge would suggest otherwise Friday night.
Orr, the senior flanker and safety who has committed to play collegiately for Louisville, caught three touchdown passes, threw one from the wildcat formation and caused a key deflection that Kealey Green converted into a third-quarter interception that turned the momentum in a tight contest between nondistrict Class 3A rivals.
Orr totaled seven catches for 107 of Notre Dame’s 141 yards in the air. Orr’s 65-yard catch-and-run TD on a deep ball from quarterback Alex Darras with 10:12 left in the game put Notre Dame up by 14.
The Pioneers, however, showed tremendous grit throughout the game and mounted a comeback in the final quarter behind JoJo Tillery’s 263 yards of total offense. Tillery hit Monquel Hughes for a 38-yard TD pass with 8:31 left in the game, capping a drive that was sparked by Hughes’ 51-yard kickoff return.
Orr and Darras responded with the final TD of the night — a 4-yard, pitch-and-catch that ended a 60-yard drive for Notre Dame (1-1).
“East Ridge is a tough football team, and without a few big plays offensively and a pick on defense, this game would have gone down to the very end,” said Notre Dame coach Charles Fant. “The big plays turned the momentum of the game. We have been working Kareem some as a quarterback, but having him out there as a receiver is something that is really, really special.”
While Orr remained humble concerning his comprehensive game, he did admit that making his commitment to Louisville over the summer has taken some weight off his shoulders entering his senior season.
“I was just focused on making plays tonight,” Orr said. “I am very relaxed going out there this year, and I am having fun with my teammates.”
Auston Banks led the Notre Dame ground attack with 91 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown, while Darras, coming back from an ankle injury, threw for 126 yards and two TDs.
Deangelo Johnson gave the Pioneers a 10-7 lead in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown. East Ridge looked to grab the momentum at the opening of the second half by perfectly executing an onside kick, but Notre Dame’s defense stiffened and set up Orr and Darras for the Irish’s long TD strike.
“JoJo did a good job tonight, but we need to do a better job of establishing our running game with people other than Tillery,” said East Ridge coach Tracy Malone. “In the third quarter, we were pretty much nonexistent on offense and our defense stayed out there a long time. But our kids played hard. We’ve played two tough teams in Notre Dame and Walker Valley to open the year. We don’t like opening 0-2 on the year, but we know what we have to do to get better.”
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