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Eagles look to rebound after loss

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Things didn’t go Vista del Lago’s way on Friday in the opening game of the 2012 season, but it’s only one game —a non-league game at that — and the Eagles will be back. The Eagles didn’t play particularly well on offense, as they only gained 133 yards through the air and 13 on the ground. Credit the Oak Ridge defense for that, but Vista knows they didn’t execute well. “We struggled with our execution and with making the right decision and it starts with me,” said quarterback Justin Moore, who completed 14-of-29 passes for 123 yards before being replaced by Matt Jimison. “We had our chances to get in the end zone and didn’t get it done. We gave up 42 points, but our defense was out on the field way too much.” While the Eagles didn’t play well offensively, they were still in the game and had momentum heading into halftime thanks to an 89-yard kickoff return by Josh Pfeffer minutes before the break that provided the Eagles their only points. The kickoff return, coming right after Oak Ridge made it 14-0, cut the lead to 14-6, as the teams headed to the locker room. “I thought we played well defensively in the first half, but we struggled offensively,” Vista coach Chris Jones said. “At halftime we felt the first drive of the second half would be the most important drive of the game. It definitely turned out to be a game changer. They scored and then we had a three-and-out and then had a high snap that led to another score. Once momentum changes to the other side, it’s tough to get it back.” Oak Ridge received the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 80 yards on 10 plays, leading to an 8-yard-run by Josh Wellman with 9:15 to play. The drive featured a 23-yard run from Wellman and also a third-and-11 conversion on a pass from Jason Samuels to Byron Spain the play before Wellman’s touchdown run to keep the drive alive. If that scoring drive wasn’t bad enough, the Eagles followed with a three-yard run and two incomplete passes and were forced to punt on fourth down. The snap back to punter Evan Ewey, however, sailed over his head and was recovered by Oak Ridge’s Jericho Hallare at the one-yard line. Hallare scored on the next play and before the Eagles knew it, they were down 28-6 and the rout was on. The Eagles went three-and-out again on their next possession and Oak Ridge started its next drive on the Eagle 40-yard line. Seven plays later and the Trojans were in the end zone again, this time on a 12-yard pass from Samuels to Trent Buenzli. While Vista offense could do nothing, even with Moore being replaced by Jimison at quarterback, Oak Ridge continued to roll. The Trojans’ final score came on a 46-yard run by Wellman late in the third quarter. What was a close game at halftime turned into a blowout, as Oak Ridge scored four unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter. As Vista prepares to travel to Highlands on Friday for the second game of the season, there is no panic in their locker room. “We can definitely improve and it comes with better timing and experience,” Moore said. “I think this week we’re all going to be focused in practice and that’s what we need.” Jones added, “After a game like this, we can either show up Monday ready to learn and get better or stay the same.” JV Eagles 15, Oak Ridge 13 Trailing 13-0 with six minutes to go in the game, Vista came roaring back to shock Oak Ridge and win the game. Quarterback Ryan Wert hit Brayden Shouse for a 30-yard touchdown pass to get the Eagles on the board and Wert followed with the extra point. Later, Nick Brown scored on a two-yard touchdown run on fourth down and the two-point conversion, a pass from Mike McMahon to Tyler Steinlein, gave the Eagles the two-point win. “The defense kept us in the game, while the offense shot itself in the foot with multiple turnovers in the first half which allowed Oak Ridge to take a 13-0 lead,” Vista coach Lance Moore said. “At halftime we regrouped, made some adjustments and wore down the Trojans in second half. The kids never gave up and believed they could still win even late in the game.” Oak Ridge 33, Vista freshman 0 Much like the varsity game, this contest was close at halftime with the Eagles trailing 14-0 on two blown defensive assignments, but the Trojans took over in the second half and rolled to a big victory. “We made some critical mistakes in the second half that gave Oak Ridge good field position,” Vista coach Ty Schantz said. “The game provided us with some key adjustments and things to polish for next week.”