The Ooltewah Owls got a much-needed "fixer upper" Friday night in a 38-6 nondistrict victory over visiting East Ridge.
After dropping their last three games on their home turf of James Monroe Stadium, the Owls nestled back into the nest with a sparkling performance that made at least two people very happy.
Ooltewah coach Shannon Williams said the team had focused on the mantra of fixing itself during the week and said the effort was perhaps the Owls' best of the year.
"We haven't played up to our standard and we know that, but tonight we managed to fix a lot of the things that have been beating us," Williams said. "We haven't been causing turnovers and we did that tonight. It was nice to see."
The smile for junior quarterback Brody Binder rivaled that of Williams. Binder had been the subject of criticism over his pass-completion rate of 36 percent coming in but was 8-of-12 for 140 yards and two touchdowns against the Pioneers.
"You just try to take it and use it to motivate you," Binder said. "Tonight I felt like I was really in control of the offense and had a lot of confidence. We needed this as a team, and it is certainly something to build on."
It was his 41-yard pass to Mike Williams that screamed confidence, as he perfectly lofted the bomb just as he was getting nailed by a defender. Williams caught three throws for 92 yards.
"Brody has only been playing football for two years now," Coach Williams said of the baseball standout. "That pass just shows how far he has come. Everything is a new experience for him, but we need him to efficient like that for us to win."
The Owls (3-3) scored 35 points in the first half, including two defensive TDs, and seemed to get their feet under them after losing seven starters since the season opener.
Stewart Doss scored on a 15-yard pass from Binder and returned an interception 42 yards for another score. Desmond Pittman, who had 83 yards rushing on 12 carries, added a 5-yard score, and freshman Jeremiah Jackson returned a fumble 29 yards for six points.
The Pioneers were limited to 36 total yards (all through the air) in the first half as Ooltewah's swarming defense held them to no rushing yards on 12 runs. The Pioneers (0-5) did find the end zone on the game's last play when Jo Jo Tillery connected on a 30-yard pass to Seth Vaughn. It was only the Pioneers' third TD on the season.
Ooltewah outgained East Ridge 266-117 in total yards.
The Owls return to 5-AAA play next week, when they will host Soddy-Daisy, while the Pioneers jump back into 6-AA action at state-ranked East Hamilton.