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Pioneers Fall to DP in Key Game


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The road to the playoffs got a lot bumpier for Oak Ridge Friday. The Pioneers fell 35-18 to district power Dr. Phillips at the Panthers’ place.

Oak Ridge needed a win against Dr. Phillips to stay on course for a playoff berth. Only the top team in District 8A-5 is guaranteed a playoff berth. Teams that do not win a district title must vie for a handful of at-large bids. Dr. Philips is now 1-0 in the district. Meanwhile, Oak Ridge is 1-1. The Pioneers must hope that Dr. Phillips loses twice of its remaining three district games, and it’s not likely to happen given the Panthers’ perennial dominance.

The Pioneers must do some soul-searching now. That’s especially true due to how Oak Ridge lost. The Pioneers and Dr. Phillips combined for 30 penalties, including five personal fouls on Oak Ridge players late in the game. Earlier in the game, Oak Ridge made blunders that led to Panthers’ touchdowns.

In the first quarter, a fumbled punt allowed Dr. Phillips to get on the board first on a short run. Senior quarterback Corvondre Curate rallied his team, and it appeared that the Pioneers were gaining momentum when Curate’s pass was picked off in the red zone. Dr. Phillips scored on the next play to take a 14-0 lead.

The Pioneers rallied back, though. Trailing 24-0 in the second quarter, Oak Ridge scored on a Curate-to-Josh Guilford touchdown pass and on a 17-yard run by senior Greg Fields, who scored again in the third quarter to make it a 28-18 game. Oak Ridge came up short on all three of its two-point conversion attempts. Had the Pioneers scored at least the extra-point kick on each of its scores, the team would have trailed by only a touchdown heading into the final quarter.

Ultimately, it was a night of mistakes, some intentional and some not, for Oak Ridge’s players. In the final quarter, the team committed a shocking number of personal fouls to keep a Dr. Phillips drive alive. The Panthers eventually scored late in the final quarter to thwart the Oak Ridge comeback effort.

 

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Pioneers Fall to DP in Key Game