Scoring on its first five possessions, Ooltewah broke free early Thursday night and coasted home for a 40-7 Region 2-6A football victory over visiting McMinn County.
The Owls, who host Maryville next Thursday, poked their nose above .500 overall (4-3) and in the region (2-1).
"We played well, we played clean. We didn't turn the ball over. We executed better. We're a good football team," Owls coach Mac Bryan said.
"They might be a better football team than people think," added McMinn County coach Bo Cagle, who agreed that his Cherokees are putting a junior varsity team on the field most Friday nights.
It's a group that includes 57 sophomores and freshmen, and nine freshmen were on the field against the Owls.
"It's not real fair for us right now, but these kids don't give up," Cagle said. "They go out and practice hard, and it's going to pay off for us in the future."
Ooltewah succeeded with premier running back Sincere Quinn patrolling the sideline, his injured ankle still booted, and top linebacker Tyler Henderson done for the season with a broken ankle. The Owls have had more than their share of bites from the injury bug and also may have lost two of their top defensive linemen Thursday.
With Quinn sidelined again, the Owls turned to junior Tahj Cargle, who ran f or 77 yards and his team's first two scores. Cargle also added a 52-yard touchdown reception.
Quarterback Kyrell Sanford, like Quinn and Cargle a junior, was Ooltewah's master of ceremonies, though. He completed 13 of 16 passes for 293 yards, hitting his first eight attempts, and added another 45 yards rushing. He scored on a 10-yard run and threw three scoring passes in three quarters of work.
"He played well, did a good job," Bryan said.
Sanford twice passed to Andrew Manning for TDs — on plays of 27 and 57 yards.
Manning, who plays both sides and on some of the Owls' special teams, finished with six catches for 158 yards.
"He does just about everything. He does it all," Bryan praised.
Cam Chambers added five catches for another 111 yards.
The Owls had 442 total offensive yards and the defense came within 3:29 of getting the shutout, holding the Cherokees to 180 yards including 148 rushing on 38 attempts.
"(The Cherokees) played hard and they did a good job early of trying to slow the game down, but it helped us some when we broke ahead," Bryan said.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him on Twitter @wardgossett.