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Cummings not happy about shutout: ‘This is unacceptable’

  • Oak Ridge’s Brian Kelley (as well as the rest of the Wildcat defense) was all out despite the team’s 24-0 loss at home against Farragut. - Chad Steed Photography

  • Oak Ridge’s Brandon Heyward reaches for a ball just past his fingertips Friday night against Farragut. - Chad Steed Photography

Oak Ridge High School football Coach Scott Cummings couldn’t hide his frustration after his team was shut out Friday night at home.

“I’ve only had one shutout in my career, and this is unacceptable,” Cummings said after the Wildcats were defeated 24-0 by Farragut at Blankenship Field. “We’ve got to be more disciplined, and that starts right here.

“I’m the head coach and we’ll come in Sunday and try to get this figured out,” Cummings said.

Oak Ridge (2-2) committed three turnovers and was whistled for eight penalties (including six in the first half). That all added up to the Wildcats being shut out for the first time since 2017 at Farragut.

The Admirals (2-2) blanked Oak Ridge 41-0 in 2017 at Bill Clabo Field in West Knox County.

Friday, Farragut scored on the game’s first possession when senior quarterback Luke Johnson connected with Jordan Sheppard on a 43-yard strike with 9 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Reese Keeney added the extra point to extend Farragut’s advantage to 7-0. From there, things would only get worse for the Wildcats.

Oak Ridge fumbled on its first possession. Farragut’s Brice Fontenot recovered and returned the ball to the Wildcats’ 43-yard line.

ORHS, however, averted damage as it forced the Admirals to punt. However, the Wildcats muffed Keeney’s punt and Farragut’s John Duncan recovered at Oak Ridge’s 7-yard line. The Admirals scored three plays later on a 3-yard touchdown plunge by Elijah Gibbs to make the score 14-0.

A glance at the stat sheet showed that Oak Ridge had the statistical advantage, but the three turnovers and the penalties would prove to be the Wildcats’ demise.

Oak Ridge had 13 first downs (including five in the first stanza). It had 263 yards of total offense. Farragut had 221 yards and made just nine first downs.

“We did some good things,” Cummings said. “We really did some good things.”

Running back De’Jauvis Dozier had 110 yards on 15 carries and had a pair of receptions in the contest. Brandon Heyward had five catches and accumulated 72 yards.

The Wildcats used three quarterbacks against the Admirals and all had their struggles. Peyton Sharpe started. Ethan Garza came in in the second quarter. Sharpe re-entered after halftime but was later relieved by Nehemiah Elmore. Cummings noted that Sharpe remains Oak Ridge’s starting field general.

“Peyton has done a really good job and he’s our guy,” Cummings said. “All three of our quarterbacks bring different attributes, and you have to continue to work with the other quarterbacks to push him.”

In the third quarter, the Wildcats fumbled on their first play after halftime. Farragut would later turn that miscue into points when Gibbs scored his second touchdown on a 2-yard plunge to make the score 21-0.

Keeney kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:49 remaining in the fourth quarter to provide the final margin.

Next up for the Wildcats: Oak Ridge will play its third-consecutive home game when it puts its 1-0 Region 3-5A record on the line against Lenoir City (1-3 overall, 0-1 in the region).