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Indian Defense Stellar in First Shutout of Season in Opening Round of Playoff Against Warriors

It was a long road trip on Friday to Elizabethton for the opening round of the TSSAA Class AA Playoffs as the Indians would take the field to face the Warriors of Hap-py Valley. The two teams had only met twice in school history with the home team coming away the victors in those games. This time around, it was a different story as the Indian defense put together a stellar performance on the way to a 17-0 shutout win, advancing Oneida to the second round of the playoffs as one of 16 remaining teams left in Class AA. The two teams swapped drives to start the game with neither team mov-ing the ball particularly well. Oneida would change that pace in their second drive of the game as they began with the ball on the Happy Valley 37-yard line. After three first downs, the Indians would have the ball first and goal. An eight-yard run from Zander Lowe would find the end zone, giving Oneida a lead midway through the first quarter. Justyn Lynch’s PAT was good as the Indians took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter. Happy Valley would get a first down on their first possession of the second but would be forced to punt. The snap for the punt attempt would sail high over Tyler Berry’s head as he would be forced to simply cover the ball, giving Oneida the ball again deep in Warrior territory on their 12-yard line. Unfortunately, the Indians were held and forced to attempt a field goal. Lynch’s 28-yard attempt would sail wide left as Happy Valley was able to avoid a disastrous turn of events.After trading drives yet again, it was Oneida who would come upbig late just before halftime. After a short punt gave the Indians the ball on the Happy Valley 48-yard line, Oneida would move the ball down the field well with their run game, seeing Lowe tally 21 yards with Jesse Zachary adding 14 yards on the ground to get it to the Warrior’s 13-yard line. On third down, Caden Rector would find Aiden Frazier on the slant to find paydirt, getting Oneida on the board for the second time in thegame. Lynch’s point after was good and the Indians carried a 14-0 lead into the halftime break.The second half was a little quieter offensively for both teams, but the Indians did add to their lead on the second drive of the third as Lynch would bury a 29-yard field goal through the uprights to extend the Indians’ lead to 17-0. From there, it was the defensive effort of Oneida that continued to be dominate throughout the night. The Indians held Happy Valley to just 15 yards of offense in the first half and 79 yards total on the night as Oneida pitched their first shutout since week six of the 2021 season at Northview Academy 19-0 and the first playoff shutout win since 2019, a 35-0 win vs. Sullivan North. The Indians tallied 189 yards of total offense on the night with 160 of those coming on the ground. Zander Lowe led the way for the Indians with 68 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. Jesse Zachary added 61 yards rushing on eight carries. Caden Rector chipped in 32 yards on 16 carries. Rector also went 3-13 through the air for 29 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Aiden Frazier caught one pass for 13 yards and a score. Landon Limburg added a nine-yard catch while Josh Cole chipped in a seven-yard catch. Defensively, the Indians were outstanding on Friday night, led by sophomore Ben Gilbert with 15 total tackles (six solo) with a half-tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Jesse Zachary added eight total tackles (three solo) with two sacks. Braden Burchfield chipped in eight total tackles also with a fumble recovery. Levi James had seven total tackles while freshman Eli Jordan Sexton broke through with four total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. The Indians move on to the round of 16 this Friday night as they travel to Jamestown to face region 2-AA foe and #1 ranked York Institute in the second round. The Indians look to avenge an earlier loss to the Dragons 28-0 in week seven of the season. Kickoff is set for 8:00 pm eastern time.

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