The stage was set in Chattanooga for the last high school football game of the season as The Oakland Patriots were looking to secure their third straight state title (which had never been done before in 6A), against the Beech Buccaneers who were looking for their first title since 2012 and first ever in 6A.
Oakland started the game with the ball and began to run the ball right into the teeth of the Beech defense that was only allowing 14 points per game. After an encroachment penalty on The Buccaneers on fourth down, Oakland had a first and goal opportunity on the three-yard line. Oakland wasted no time as Mason Bell plunged into the endzone and the Beech defense had already given up half of its per- game average. Oakland’s offense had set the tone. Beech was going to have to respond. On play number one they responded well with a 13-yard run from Darius Johnson, but on their third play fumbled the ball and found themselves in third and 38 after they recovered the fumble and subsequently committed a false start. JP Courtney got back what yards he could on the ground, but Beech was forced to punt, and Oakland found themselves with the ball and the lead at the Beech 40-yard line. The Buccaneer defense was not phased, and forced a four and out, stopping Marcus Bullard just short of the line to gain on fourth down. Oakland then returned the favor and forced a punt that pinned them back inside their own 10-yard line. That’s where the first quarter would end, with Oakland leading 7-0.
We were seeing a very defensive game between two very solid defensive fronts. Oakland was able to break through early after a Beech penalty, but who would break through next? Oakland answered that question with a drive that took up over half of the second quarter and covered 91 yards in 16 plays as Eric Taylor gashed the Beech defense on the ground and capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown run. With just under five minutes to go in the half, The Buccaneers needed to get on the board. They began to lean on senior runnning back Darrius Johnson as he ran four plays in a row for 34 yards. Beech had crossed midfield for the first time and were on the move to the Oakland 30-yard line, but Oakland started to stop the run game and a bad snap would put Beech in a fourth and 11 with just under a minute to go. After a timeout, the offense returned to the field and with all the pressure of the state championship game on their shoulders, Justyce Law delivered a beautiful ball to Tyler Nix who made a great catch on the sideline for 20 yards. Beech faced a second and 8 on the 9-yard line with 35 seconds to go in the half. Then, with one of the most creative and perfectly executed play calls I’ve seen all season, the ball was pitched to JP Courtney out of the I Formation. After running to his right side Courtney pulled up and looked back to the other side of the field to find an Oakland defender in his face. As he was leveled to the ground Courtney put up a rainbow to Trent Sheely who hauled in the pass for a Beech touchdown. The extra point was missed, and the half would come to an end with Oakland leading 14-6.
Oakland set the tone early after getting the ball first and Beech had an opportunity to do the same in the second half. Facing a third and 8 on their own 48, JP Courtney accelerated for a 24-yard run. A late hit would move The Bucs inside the 15-yard line. Beech would look to Darius Johnson in the redzone but found no room. They faced fourth and 3 on the 6-yard line. Courtney went around the left side and was close but after measurement was found to be short. Oakland’s drive began on the 6-yard line, but that was merely an inconvenience as Eric Taylor exploded for a 83 yard run making multiple Buccaneers miss on his way to the opposite 13 yard line. After a first down run from Mason Bell, Eric Taylor capped off a 96-yard drive, of which he accounted for 84-yards, with a one-yard touchdown. Similar to the first drive of the game, a missed opportunity for Beech turned into points for Oakland who now led 21-6. Beech could not afford to go down three scores at this point in the game and needed a score. It would not come, as The Patriots forced a punt. JP Courtney was back to punt and the Oakland rush came bearing down on him. He had no room to get the kick away and had to take off around the left side. He nearly got away and turned lemons into lemonade, but the Oakland defense was too quick and turned The Buccaneers over on downs inside their own 20. Three plays later, Eric Taylor ran in his third touchdown of the night making it 28-6 Oakland. The hits kept coming for Beech as a bad snap went tumbling back towards their own endzone and was recovered by Mason Bell, setting up Oakland at the five-yard line. Eric Taylor then capitalized on the turnover by cashing in his fourth touchdown of the game making it 35-6 Oakland. Beech came out needing to do anything to get more points on the board. They tried going to the air but nothing was working against The Patriots defense, and they would once again have to punt. On Oakland’s first play after the punt Kade Hewitt unleashed a pass deep down the middle to Quincy Jackson for a 57-yard touchdown. The score was then 42-6 Oakland, and that is how the third quarter would end.
The fourth quarter would be uneventful Beech took up 11:06 of the 12:00 remaining in the game due to the running clock. Oakland turned them over on downs and the celebration began for Oakland’s fans. The clock hit 0:00 and the post-game celebration was on for all. Oakland had won the 2022 6A BlueCross Bowl State Championship 42-6.
Our MVP for the game is Oakland running back Eric Taylor. Eric finished the night with 175 yards on 18 carries, four touchdowns, and was named The BlueCross Bowl MVP. You can hear what he had to say after the game below.