MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Half of Murfreesboro was cold on Thursday and the other half was frozen as thousands of fans attended either the Oakland and Blackman game or the MTSU and Marshall contest.
On a bitter cold and breezy night, Oakland brought in some extra bleachers. It needed them.
With both teams at 8–0, Oakland hosting Blackman was a terrific matchup. Oakland left its home field with a narrow 9–3 victory, and coach Thomas McDaniel won his 60th game as a head coach and his 53rd at Oakland.
With the win, Oakland is 9–0. Strangely, despite three state championships and five appearances in the championship game, Oakland, which travels to heavy underdog Stewarts Creek next week, has never had an unbeaten regular season. Also with the win, Oakland has won the district, will likely finish No. 1 or No. 2 in the state and will also likely get the No. 1 seed in its playoff quadrant.
With the loss, Blackman, now 8–1, will not drop out of the state’s top 10, The Blaze are still playoff bound and will travel to Kentucky to play a very tough Bowling Green team Friday.
Both Oakland and Blackman found out a great deal about themselves in this game, and the results could easily have been different. For instance, Oakland could have won by more if it had not committed so many penalties in the first half. Blackman could have won the game, but had way too many turnovers (four) to expect a victory.
The first half was a battle of defenses and resulted in a 3–3 tie. Oakland got on the board in the first quarter with a 41-yard field goal by kicker Hayes Foster. It was his fifth field goal of the year and 50th kicking point. Blackman answered a short time later with a 27-yard field goal by Blaine Burks’ third field goal of the year and 51st kicking point.
Although we didn’t know it at the time, the game was finally decided early in the second half when Oakland quarterback Rhett Stacey, behind a dominating offensive line, engineered an 80-yard scoring drive that took almost nine minutes off the clock.
Stacey, who finished 10 of 12 passing for 89 yards, can manage a game, carry out instructions and he makes few mistakes. On one major play of the drive, Stacey hit Fred Wade with a 30-yard pass and run. Wade, who has 969 yards on the year with 14 touchdowns, later scored from the 2.
It was the game’s only touchdown. The extra point was a rare miss and Blackman had plenty of time left, but it didn’t happen. The rest of the game was tons of defense and missed Blackman opportunities and turnovers. These two teams average more than 72 points a game total. In this one they got 12. Now that is serious defense.
Few people, including me, really understand the TSSAA playoff system, but one thing is clear. These two teams could meet again, and we will know all of our opponents by the end of next weekend. It’s possible we could have as many as six teams in the playoffs.
My picks for this week will be in Thursday’s edition of The Post.