PDT Sports Writer
The Oak Hill Oaks came back from a 14 point deficit, to score 32 unanswered points to defeat the Eastern Eagles in Beaver, Ohio on Saturday night, in a Southern Ohio Conference (SOC) Division I matchup. As a result of the win, Oak Hill has clinched at least a share of the SOC I title.
The Homecoming and Senior Night for the Eagles (3-6) would not have the story-book ending Eagles fans had hoped for, after the 18 point loss to the Oaks (5-4).
“I thought our kids showed a lot of pride in the second half,” said Oak Hill Head Football Coach, Nathan Dugan. “Eastern came out and hit us with their first play and kind of shell-shocked us.”
The bulk of the first half was dominated by the Eagles. Everything seemed to go their way, while the Oaks struggled until a quick score just before the end of the half.
“They had us on our heels, and it was up to our guys, their decision to make, are we going to come out and play in the second half or are we going to lay down and be in a dogfight,” said Dugan.
That halftime decision was to compete against the Eagles.
The Oaks came out and held the Eagles scoreless for the remainder of the game.
“I’m really proud with how they (Oak Hill) responded,” said Dugan. “Hats off to Eastern, they played a great game.”
Most importantly for Oak Hill, the Oaks have secured at least a share of the SOC I, which is especially memorable for the Oaks’ seniors who have claimed at least a share of the title for their entire high school career.
After forcing an Oak Hill turnover on downs on the game’s initial drive, the Eastern Eagles wasted no time in setting the pace for the first half of the ballgame. On their first, and only, play of the drive, Eastern’s Cole Freemont broke through the Oaks’ defensive line and scored on a 54-yd run, giving his team a quick 6-0 lead over the Oaks with 8:35 remaining in the first quarter.
The ensuing drive for the Oaks ended in disappointment for the Oak Hill faithful, after a couple of incomplete passes and an illegal procedure penalty forced Oak Hill to punt the ball away to the Eagles.
The Oak Hill defense gave Eastern a taste of their own medicine, as they forced the Eagles to punt, facing a fourth and long situation. Oak Hill nearly lost possession however, following a Zach Fisher fumble. Fisher was able to fall on the ball shortly after the fumble securing possession for the Oaks.
Another Oak Hill drive ended in a punt as the Oaks failed to draw the Eagles offsides on a fourth and five situation on the 50 yard line.
The next Eastern drive would end on a turnover on downs after just breaking into the Oaks’ side of the field.
The Oak Hill offensive woes continued, as Lance Burdine fumbled the snap on a second and long play, and allowing the Eagles to fall on the ball, earning a takeaway.
The Eagles scored quickly with only five plays, all runs. Brice Webb rushed for three yards, followed by four consecutive Freemont runs for totaling 56 yards and earning Freemont his second score of the night, giving the Eagles a 14-0 lead with 2:37 remaining in the half, after a successful Freemont run for the 2-point conversion.
Oak Hill would strike back, and would strike quick. Oak Hill quarterback Layne Burdine floated a ball over the Eagles secondary, and finding Cody Swann’s hands. The 56-yard scoring completion brought the Oaks back into the game. The duo would connect again for a successful 2-point conversion bringing the Oaks to within six from the Eagles, 14-8, with 2:15 remaining in the half.
As dominant as the Eagles were in the first half, the Oaks were more so in the second half of the game. The Oaks’ Andrew Kearns intercepted Clay Martin inside Eagles territory.
The Oaks would follow up the interception with an eight play 57-yard drive culminating with a 7-yard Willie Harris touchdown run. The Oaks then took the lead from the Eagles with a Tyler Trisch 2-point conversion, which gave the Oaks a 16-14 lead with 7:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Oak Hill’s defense stopped the Eagles from a promising drive, forcing a fourth down and an Eagles punt.
The defensive woes for the Eagles continued, as the Oaks offense hit a big scoring pass play as Layne Burdine found an open Cody Swann for a 28-yard completion. The Oaks lead would continue to increase after a Matt Carpenter run secured the 2-point conversion, giving the Oaks a 24-14 lead over the Eagles with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Another failed offensive drive drastically dropped the chances of an Eagles comeback over the Oaks.
Oak Hill then went into a time management state of play. The Oaks drained the clock throughout the fourth quarter. Even worse than the Oaks ability to drain precious seconds from the clock, the Eagles couldn’t prevent the Oaks from gaining several first downs, and gave up one last score on a 14 play, 66-yard drive, which took 8:35 seconds off the clock in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 32-14 to the Oaks with just over three minutes remaining in the game, the Eagles took to the field in an attempt to make a comeback. The comeback bid would be short lived however, as Eastern’s Evan Leist would fumble the ball, losing it to Andrew Kearns of the Oaks, who also had just scored on a 4-yard run on the previous Oak Hill drive.
With less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Oaks took to the victory formation, to secure their fifth SOC I win on the season.
In the final week of the regular season, Eastern will travel to Fayetteville-Perry on Friday, October 30th, to finish out their season.
The Oak Hill Oaks will host the Green Bobcats on Friday, October 30th. The Week 10 SOC I matchup will give the Oaks the opportunity to claim the SOC I title outright. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff, at Oak Hill High School.
1 2 3 4 Final
Eastern 6 8 0 0 14
Oak Hill 0 8 16 8 32
Eastern – C. Freemont 54-yd run (PAT no good) (8:36)
Eastern – C. Freemont 1-yd run (2-pt conversion good, Freemont run) (2:37)
Oak Hill – L. Burdine 56-yd pass to C. Swann (2-pt conversion good, Burdine pass to Swann) (2:15)
Oak Hill – W. Harris 7-yd run (2-pt conversion good, Trisch run) (7:53)
Oak Hill – L. Burdine 28-yd pass to C. Swann (2-pt conversion good, Carpenter run) (1:33)
Oak Hill – A. Kearns 4-yd run (2-pt conversion good, Kearns run) (3:12)