MINFORD — It was highly unlikely anybody saw this one coming.
In arguably the upset of the Southeastern Ohio football season thus far, the Oak Hill Oaks — after rallying from a pair of one-touchdown deficits — defeated the host Minford Falcons 17-14 on Friday night in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilt.
The Oaks captured the stunner with a 24-yard field goal by Brock Harden as time expired, giving them their first victory at Minford since the mid-1990s — and throwing a curveball into the SOC II championship chase.
It was Oak Hill’s second victory over the Falcons in the past three years, as Minford had won six straight in the long-running and always hotly-contested series — dating back to 2011.
Oak Hill is now an even 4-4 and 2-1 in the SOC II — as the Oaks also knocked off Valley on the road two weeks ago 21-16.
The Oaks also leaped back into the Division V, Region 19 playoff picture, as Oak Hill — according to the unofficial state computer ratings on the respected rankings website www.joeeitel.com — is eighth after eight weeks.
The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs – with the top four squads earning first-round home bouts.
Minford, meanwhile, fell to 6-2 and 1-2 in the league — and in all likelihood saw its SOC II title hopes evaporate.
The Falcons fell from fourth last week to sixth this week in the same unofficial computer rankings.
Oak Hill had trailed 7-0 in the second quarter and again 14-7 in the fourth quarter — thanks to an early 8-yard touchdown run and a 29-yard punt return TD by Minford senior Ty Wiget.
But both times the Oaks — under first-year head coach Paul Carver — rallied back for 7-7 and 14-14 ties.
With nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, and almost a dozen full minutes after Wiget’s rushing touchdown, Triston Diltz ran in from 15 yards out.
Harden had the extra point for the 7-7 tie, but less than 12 minutes later, Wiget was in the end zone again on his punt return for a TD.
However, Oak Hill had the game tied again at 14-14 with 6:49 remaining, when Keaton Potter broke free for a 56-yard touchdown dart — and Harden had the extra point.
That set up Harden hitting the game-winning field goal.
The Oaks outgained Minford — significantly actually — in the major statistical categories, including plays from scrimmage (67-52), first downs (21-13), rushing yards (293-105) and total yards (341-231).
Oak Hill only attempted 10 passes and completed six for 48 yards, as Minford’s Drew Skaggs intercepted quarterback Jordan Morgan with 22 seconds remaining in the opening half.
Wiget was the Falcons’ leading rusher with 61 yards on 15 carries, while quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis added 44 yards on 10 trips.
But Minford’s longest rushes from scrimmage were just 15 yards by Vogelsong-Lewis and 13 by Wiget.
Vogelsong-Lewis completed half of his 20 passes for 126 yards, with his longest going for 42 yards to Matthew Risner.
Wiget (41 yards) and Skaggs (28 yards) both caught four balls apiece, but Vogelsong-Lewis was intercepted twice.
The Falcons’ fight for their playoff lives now moves on to Waverly — in another SOC II affair on Friday night.
Waverly (2-1 SOC II) will enter at 6-2 as well, having lost a 42-28 running-back shootout at defending division champion and league-leader Wheelersburg (3-0 SOC II).
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