Defensive enthusiasts would have loved it. Four quarters of nothing but defense resulted in a scoreless tie between East Ridge and visiting Boyd-Buchanan.
The teams' serious threats were limited to field goals -- two misses by the host Pioneers, who then blocked Boyd-Buchanan's try.
It was the Buccaneers, though, who came up with the timeliest block, linebacker Stephen Ingram bolting through untouched to deny an overtime extra-point try and preserve a 7-6 victory.
"I was late getting on the field. I had started off because I didn't think they had scored, so I had to rush back out there real quick," the junior said. "Their guard blocked down on the tackle, so I went through clean."
East Ridge won the overtime toss and appeared to be in good shape when it elected to play defense first. But the Bucs moved quickly, Grant Mathis pulling in a TD pass from Jim Caldwell and Chase Reed knocking home the ultra-important PAT.
The Pioneers took just one play to get their own touchdown, though -- on a leaping, in-the-defender's-grasp pass from Demetrius Bumpass to Avious Griffin to pull back within a point and set the stage for Ingram's block.
"We practice that play at least three days a week," Ingram said after an eight-tackle night that included 1.5 tackles for loss and half a sack.
Boyd-Buchanan was limited to 50 rushing yards and 190 total while East Ridge got 83 rushing and 167 passing. Bucs quarterback Jim Cardwell was his team's leading rusher with 29 yards while Reed was held to 18 yards on 19 carries.
The Pioneers' Mike Johnson had eight tackles and was supported by Trey Toran and Torrey Hughes.
"That is a heck of a defense over there," Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds said, jerking a thumb toward East Ridge's postgame team huddle. "That's a good bunch over there with a lot on the ball. Both teams played four quarters and then some. We have to take this performance tonight and build on it. They had a great defense and it's obvious we still have a lot of work to do in the offensive line, but I think our kids grew up some tonight."
The Pioneers offense was going against a Boyd-Buchanan defense that returned nine from last year's run to the Class 2A state semifinals, and East Ridge still put together 250 yards.
"Their quarterbacks are very good athletes and made some great plays," Ingram said.
True to his word, East Ridge coach Mike Martin did indeed alternate quarterbacks Bumpass and Eric McCurdy on every offensive snap, and the two combined for 167 yards while completing 12 of 20 passes with one interception.
As unusual as it may sound given Boyd-Buchanan's reputation, the Bucs threw for almost three times as many yards as they gained running the football. Cardwell finished with 140 yards on a 15-23-1 night.
Each team had an interception, Deonte Dokes for East Ridge and Andrew Peace for Boyd-Buchanan.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...