CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Ooltewah has routinely played at least three running backs throughout this high school football season. At Bradley Central on Friday, Desmond Pittman did the work of three backs.
Pittman helped the Owls eventually take the lead, then helped them maintain it, and above all else kill the clock on their 34-23 victory over the Bears.
Pittman ended up rushing 33 times for 248 yards. Ooltewah coach Shannon Williams wasn't the only one after the game who praised the work by the Owls' offensive line.
"They kept feeding me and the line just kept blocking," Pittman said. "We came out a little shady at the start, but the line picked it up. They're getting better day by day."
Pittman had a 1-yard scoring run in the first half and a 5-yarder that broke the halftime tie at 17 and gave Ooltewah its first lead and the lead for good. He also scored from 2 yards with nine seconds left in the third quarter, making it 31-23.
Twenty-one of Pittman's rushes came after halftime. He had nine in the Owls' scoring drive to open the second half and had the first six when they took over at their 6 and ran out the final 3:24.
Pittman got good support from Jon Hill, who ran nine times for 73 yards.
"We couldn't stop their running game," Bradley coach Damon Floyd said. "They kept finding our weak side. We just couldn't get them on the ground."
Ooltewah (5-3, 2-2) scored first on Laszlo Toser's 20-yard field goal, but the Bears scored the next 17. After the Owls got within seven, Shawn Montgomery, who had an interception late in the game, returned a punt 43 yards for a touchdown 1:38 before the break.
"I told them if we win the turnover battle we win the game," Coach Williams said. "Special teams played great. We got some return points in the kicking game. We played a good football game in the second half, but we had to have a couple of big plays late in the first half to get us back to square one."
Bradley Central (4-3, 2-1) got 243 yards of total offense from quarterback Bryce Copeland. He had a 42-yard touchdown pass to Dee Crisp and two 1-yard scoring runs.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.