East Ridge needed overtime to squeak by a determined Smith County, 35-28, Friday night at Raymond James Stadium/Shanks Field in the first round of the TSSAA Class 3A playoffs.
The win, as were many of the Pioneers’ previous 10, was largely a result of the rushing of Traneil Moore, who toted the ball for 235 yards and accounted for all of East Ridge’s touchdowns _ four rushing and one reception for 55 yards.
But, Quasey Vinson’s interception of a desperate fourth-down pass in overtime sealed the victory for East Ridge, who will advance to the second round of the playoffs and “Defend the Ridge” against Chattanooga Christian, a 23-22 winner over Dekalb County.
East Ridge got the ball first in overtime. On the first play from scrimmage, Moore carried around left end for pay dirt.
The Pioneers had seemingly won the game, as a fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone. But, a roughing the passer call on quarterback Carson Hackett gave a fresh set of downs to the Owls.
Vinson’s pick, on yet another last gasp effort on fourth down, secured the first playoff win for East Ridge since 2001.
Notes: Sophomore quarterback Eric Bennett was nine out of 10 passing for 99 yards. East Ridge had 12 first downs to Smith County’s 18. The Pioneers had 338 total yards to Smith County’s 400. East Ridge was flagged four times for 32 yards. Smith County had 10 penalties for 65 yards. East Ridge ran 40 plays, while Smith County had 73. Moore now has amassed 1,700 rushing yards on the year.
East Ridge will host Chattanooga Christian next week in the second round of the playoffs. East Ridge prevailed in an Oct. 30 game against CCS, 28-13.