East Ridge used the swift legs of its stalwart running back and the broad shoulders of its stingy defense to dominate Chattanooga Christian, 28-0, Friday night at Raymond James Stadium to reach the quarterfinals of the TSSAA Class 3A state football playoffs.
Running back Traneil Moore rushed for 250 yards and three scores. And the Pioneer defense set the tone for the contest, stopping the Chargers inside the five on its opening possession.
“He’s a special kid, a good player,” Coach Tracy Malone said after the game of Moore, who has now amassed more than 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season. “What is most impressive about him is his humility. He always gives his offensive line the lion’s share of the credit.”
The win improved East Ridge to 12 wins on the season, the most in the school’s 57-year history. The victory also set up a rematch with Notre Dame in next week’s state quarterfinal to be played on Shanks Field. The Pioneers downed the Irish, 14-9, Oct. 2 on a muddy Notre Dame field.
Malone said he never envisioned this year’s team going so deep into the post-season.
“I thought we could make the playoffs, that was our goal,” Malone said. “But, I had no idea that we were going to be this good.”
Things didn’t look real good for East Ridge in the early going, as CCS (8-4) marched from its own 25-yard line to the Pioneers two before turning it over on downs. Alex Goodwin stepped up to put a big hit on D.J. Toney to turn away the scoring bid.
After an exchange of punts, the Pioneers used a short field to get on the board. Eric Bennett hit connected with Jesse Jones on a 12-yard pass to the CCS 39. After a false start on the Pioneers, Moore took a direct snap from the Wildcat formation and scampered 32 yards around the left side for his initial TD. C.J. Bond tacked on the PAT putting East Ridge up 7-0.
That’s the way the half would end.
East Ridge received the second-half kickoff and used Moore’s running skills exclusively on a 69-yard drive. It only took five plays, including a 46-yard Moore run, for the Pioneers to take a 14-0 lead with 9:17 left in the third quarter.
Just after the end of the third quarter, Braxton Moffett intercepted a Matthew Mercer pass and returned it to the Charger 34-yard line. Moore turned the mistake into a touchdown, rumbling up the middle on the next play for a 34-yard touchdown.
Another Charger interception, this time by Quasey Vinson, set up the final Pioneer touchdown in the fourth quarter. Starting on its own 40-yard line, East Ridge took seven plays to go 60 yards, this time with Lorenzo Stewart doing the honors from inside the Charger five.
The game was called with 2:45 left in the contest, after Kade Oglesby suffered a serious injury. Oglesby was taken by ambulance to hospital as a precaution, officials said.