The stage was set in Murfreesboro for what should be one of the best games of the year. The machine that is Oakland football faced the incoming challenge from The Lebanon Blue Devils with their talented offensive trio of Anthony Crowell, Jaylen Abston, and Sean Heath. Oakland sent Lebanon packing last year in the playoffs, and Lebanon came in to this one expecting revenge. While the cold wind whipped through Oakland’s stadium the energy building up to this one was still extremely present.
Oakland’s usual surgical precision was missing on their first drive after Lebanon deferred possession till the second half. A missed handoff, a fumble, and a failed fourth down attempt had the Lebanon bench and stands electrified as they made the first big stop of the night. Lebanon got Anthony Crowell involved early as they needed a big night from him to get out of The Boro with a win and advance to the next round, but false starts would kill the drive and they had to punt back to The Patriots. Both teams were feeling the pressure of the moment. Which one would rise to the occasion first? With the wind cutting to everyone’s core, Oakland decided to answer that question by establishing the run game on a drive that covered nearly 95 yards and ended in a Khalil James touchdown, making the game 7-0 Patriots with three minutes to go in the first quarter. Lebanon needed a response, but more false start penalties knocked their drive off track. After the last possession for Oakland, it looked like they may get out to a 14-point lead, but The Blue Devil defense stepped up and made a huge stop. Oakland lined up to punt. The snap was good, but the punter didn’t realize that Lebanon had blown through his line. Lebanon swarmed the punt, blocked it back into the endzone, and recovered the ball to make it 7-7 just before the end of the quarter, but Oakland did not go quietly as they returned the ensuing kickoff to the opposite 15-yard line with a Nolan Sandifur tackle saving a touchdown.
As the quarter began, the objective was clear for Oakland, pound the ball into the endzone. They did just that to start off the second quarter with a run from Oakland quarterback, Kade Hewitt to gain a 14-7 lead. Lebanon’s usually potent offense continued to struggle as they had to punt back to Oakland, but Lebanon’s defense made another huge momentum shifting play as Anthony Crowell intercepted Hewitt and returned the ball inside the Oakland 35. Oakland’s defense continued to give Lebanon problems and forced a huge fourth down attempt. Abston ran for his life in the backfield extending the play as long as he could but his pass fell incomplete. Oakland took advantage of the opportunity their defense gave them by methodically moving the ball down the field and powering the ball into the end zone with a quarterback keeper by Hewitt for his second of the game. With just over four minutes to go in the half, Oakland had built a 21-7 lead, but if Lebanon was able to successfully manage the clock and get some points, they could double up and tie the game after the half. The Blue Devil offense once again could not get going as Oakland’s sure tackling made it so that none of Lebanon’s athletes could escape and make big plays. Their defense had been playing championship caliber football all night. Hewitt with some help from his O-line moved the ball into Lebanon territory with just over a minute to go. Allowing Oakland to score points here was not something The Blue Devils could afford. With three seconds to go on the 24-yard line Oakland took a timeout to plan their last play before heading to the locker room. They decided on a field goal. A 40-yard attempt on the shoulders of Jacob Taylor. As time expired, Taylor split the uprights making it 24-7 as the game went to halftime.
The first drive of the second half was going to be huge for Lebanon. Could they score points, and keep Oakland from finishing off their stranglehold on the game? They went to Crowell for a spark but The Patriots defense continued to show how special they are as a unit by forcing a fumble and recovering on Lebanon’s first set of downs. Eric Taylor made quick work of the opportunity by plunging into the end zone and extending the Patriot lead. Lebanon seemed to find something on their next drive as they picked up a few first downs and moved the ball into Oakland territory but would come up short and had to punt back to Oakland. After another slow methodical drive Kade Hewitt would take it in for his third rushing touchdown of the night. When it rains it pours and Oakland was looking to pour it on. They got some help from their defense on Lebanon’s next drive as they forced yet another fumble and turnover. Oakland recovered and that was the end of the third quarter. Our score going into the final quarter, Oakland 38 Lebanon 7.
The fourth quarter was just mop up duty for an Oakland team that slowly but surely suffocated Lebanon until there was nowhere to go. A field goal with four minutes left in the game made it 41-7 and that would remain our final score. Any questions that were being asked about this Patriot defense have been answered and this team is dangerous, as always, moving forward.
Our MVP for the night is Oakland Quarterback, Kade Hewitt. Kade had three touchdowns with his legs and led his offense to 41 points in the win. You can hear what he had to say below.