HomeFootballOneida FootballOneida falls to Greenback in defensive struggle

Oneida falls to Greenback in defensive struggle

GREENBACK, Tenn.  |  Sometimes the biggest plays come from the unlikeliest of prospects. And, for Greenback, the biggest play of Friday’s game against Oneida came from backup quarterback Madden McNeil.

McNeil has thrown just one pass through two games this season. And it was for a 42-yard touchdown that flipped the momentum in a big way in the Cherokees’ 13-10 win over the Indians.

Down 7-0 and unable to generate much offense at all against Oneida’s defense, the Cherokees appeared to be in trouble midway through the third quarter. Their starting quarterback went down with an injury, and it was 3rd and 19. 

But McNeil found Conner James behind the secondary for a 42-yard touchdown, tying the game and putting Greenback on a path to victory.

Oneida coach Jimmy May was not happy after the game.

“Too many wasted chances,” May said bluntly of his assessment of his team’s effort. The Indians had the ball in Greenback territory three times in the first half, with only a single score to show for it.

That touchdown came on a five-yard run by Westen Hurst after Colten Daugherty intercepted a pass and returned it inside the Cherokees’ 20-yard-line.

Aside from that, Oneida struggled to move the football. The Indians finished with just 123 yards of total offense. 

“We’re not very good in the passing game,” May said. “We couldn’t pass block in the first half. We did a little better in the second half, but we just had too many wasted chances.

“We’re not very good right now and it’s my fault, so we just have to find a way to get better,” May added. “I’m not very happy about our effort. Our execution was not very good.”

The Indians are facing significant injury issues. They were without starting running back TJ Meredith for a second consecutive game. And while the senior Hurst has shown promise, he is now likely to miss the Indians’ region opener against Wartburg, as well. Also out for the Greenback game were starting lineman Cameron Kidd and receiver Jeric Huling.

“It’s like we don’t have an identity because we have some kids out,” May said. “It’s just frustrating right now.”

For a second consecutive game, penalties played a big role. Oneida was only penalized six times, but the yellow flags seemed to fly at the most inopportune times.

Late in the first half, Oneida got into field goal range, but then had a holding penalty that killed the drive. After Greenback tied the game, Levi James returned the kickoff to the Cherokees’ 30-yard-line, and the Indians eventually moved all the way to the 7-yard-line, but a personal foul penalty backed them up and forced them to settle for a field goal.

Turnovers were also a problem. After not having a turnover against Williamsburg in the season-opener, the Indians had three in Friday’s game. The second was a fumbled punt return to start the second half, which set up Greenback’s game-tying touchdown.

Oneida got the ball to Greenback’s 35-yard-line late in the game, but turned the ball over with an incomplete pass on 4th and five. The Indians’ defense got a stop and forced the Cherokees to punt with 1:01 to play, but Greenback intercepted a pass on the next snap to seal the win.

“We just didn’t play well tonight,” May said. “Give them the credit. They made the plays they needed to, and we just couldn’t seem to execute when we needed to.”

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