Whoever said “There’s no place like home,” must have had this year’s East Ridge High School football team in mind.
Playing on Shanks Field with the empty stands of Raymond James Stadium looming at their backs, the Pioneers used an explosive ground game to dominate Red Bank, 47-10, in a Region 3/AAA matchup Friday night.
Junior running back Traneil Moore rushed for 210 yards and five touchdowns, while his partner in the backfield, Lorenzo Stewart added insult to injury with a fourth-quarter, 99-yard romp as the Pioneers punished the Lions.
“The key was the offensive line,” said Moore who scored on runs of 34, 17, 65, 32 and 3 yards. “Everybody just did their jobs.”
Stewart was even more modest in remarks made on his nearly end zone to end zone run. “I just ran through a tackle at the three-yard line,” he said. “I had to.”
Stewart’s sprint at the 4:40 mark in the fourth-quarter, was set up by a Jesse Jones interception of a Caleb Tate pass. It was Jones’ seventh interception of the season.
Coach Tracy Malone said after the game that he thought Red Bank (1-4, 1-1) was a good football team, with losses to Baylor, McCallie and Soddy-Daisy.
“It’s not easy to play here,” Malone told his team, referring to home-field advantage on Shanks Field. “It’s great to see the student body get behind us.”
The win moved East Ridge to 5-0 on the year, its best start since 2001, and 2-0 in region play. The Pioneers will host Hixson next Friday in the Hall of Fame Game.
The Pioneers, who ultimately ground out more than 500 yards of total offense, fell behind early after Red Bank’s Mike Dyers booted a 27-yard field goal with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
Moore gave the fans of a taste of things to come as he rambled for an apparent touchdown of 63 yards. However, the play was nullified on a penalty. It didn’t take Moore long to make up for the Pioneer mistake, as he took the skin 34 yards around the right side of the line for a score. C.J. Bond’s conversion gave East Ridge a 7-3 lead and the Pioneers never looked back.
Moore scored two more times in the first half, which was capped by an Eric Bennett to Quasey Vinson 30-yard catch and score on a fourth down and 12 with under a minute until intermission.
The Lions were hampered by dropped passes and major penalties for the entire game, and the Pioneers capitalized, it seemed, on every opportunity. Red Bank’s only touchdown came with 6:14 left in the game as Tate finally connected on a 25-yard scoring strike to Cole Seeley.
Moore’s five rushing touchdowns may, perhaps, be a school record. Coach Malone said post-game that he had no idea. Coach Malone spoke with more assurance about Stewart’s 99-yard rushing score. “If it’s not a record it’s got to tie it,” he said.
_ The condemnation of Raymond James Stadium has left officials and public address staff in a pickle, there is no press box.
Robert Floyd, who is announcing the home games for East Ridge, was virtually alone on the bottom row of bleachers in the home stands. The lack of height hampered he and his spotter’s ability to give the fans accurate information in calling the contest. Floyd is asking for anyone, a company or individual, who might have a scissor lift _ you know, a contraption that safely raises two people to a height of about 25 feet _ to help out by allowing the football team to borrow it.
Floyd said if a company donates the scissor lift he will promote that outfit by recognizing them throughout the game. “You know, we could do something like saying ‘there is another Ballard Construction Company First Down.”