The Ocoee Knights defense turned in a dominant performance, as it accounted for 14 of Ocoee's 23 points and led the way in a 23-12 victory over Oak Ridge in preseason action August 17.
“We want to be a defensive team, so it’s good when the defense gets turnovers and gets big plays,” Ocoee head coach Aaron Sheppard said. “That’s what we expect them to do.”
The fireworks started early for the Knights' defensive unit. With Oak Ridge moving the ball into Ocoee territory on the game's opening drive, a mishandled snap resulted in Chester Geffard taking the fumble back for a scoop-and-score touchdown to give the Knights an early 7-0 lead.
Later, in the second quarter, the Pioneers were driving once again in Ocoee territory. On fourth down in the red zone, the Knights defense got the stop as Kendall Bohler broke up a pass attempt to force a turnover on downs. Ocoee went into halftime up 7-0.
“We want to be a defensive team, so it’s good when the defense gets turnovers and gets big play. That’s what we expect them to do.”
On the opening drive of the second half, Ocoee put together its first scoring drive on offense, aided by a key fourth down-conversion. The drive ended with a two-yard touchdown run by Tyrese Glover to put the Knights up 13-0 with 6:40 left in the third quarter.
Later, with Oak Ridge backed deep into its own territory, the Knights defense forced another turnover. Lovie Jenkins intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown to put Ocoee up 20-0 with 11:16 remaining in the game.
“That’s a good job,” Sheppard said, reflecting on the defense scoring two touchdowns. “They worked hard for it. They watched film. They were really ready, really focused.”
Ocoee added a field goal to go up 23-0 before working in some of its second and third string players, during which time Oak Ridge scored twice.
The defense stole the show for the Knights, but Sheppard — who is in his first years as head coach at Ocoee — said the offense will come along in time, also.
“We got a lot of different things going on,” Sheppard said. “It takes time, so we’ll pick it up, we’ll be alright.”
Ocoee will open its regular season on the road Aug. 24 as it faces the Apopka Blue Darters.
“We got to be physical,” Sheppard stated, looking ahead to Apopka. “They’re physical, so we gotta at least try to match them.”