WEST PORTSMOUTH – Riding a five game losing streak, West came into Friday’s SOC game against new SOC II football rival Oak Hill hoping to play the role of spoiler.
The Oaks, coming off their 17-14 road win over Minford which helped sky-rocket their playoff hopes, came into Friday’s game needing wins in week nine and ten to ensure their bid for a third consecutive postseason trip after being seeded eighth in the most recent Division V Region 19 rankings.
Thanks to a solid offensive game followed by a strong defense which limited West to just 55 yards of offense in the second half, Oak Hill defeated West 32-7 in a game that was more than down to the wire up until the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
With the win, Oak Hill improves to 5-4 (3-1 SOC II) while West falls to 2-7 (0-4 SOC II).
“It was a battle, all the way till deep into the fourth quarter it was a one score game,” West coach Ben Johnson said following the loss. “I thought our guys played their butts off. On senior night, I couldn’t have asked for a better effort, I’m proud of them for that. Congratulations to Oak Hill; they’re really on a roll right now, they’ve got a great football team.”
Oak Hill scored the game’s first touchdown at the 8:39 mark of the first quarter on a one yard tote by senior Keaton Potter. Brock Harden, last week’s hero for the Oaks over Minford with his go-ahead field goal with two seconds left, connected on the extra point to put the Oaks ahead of West 7-0.
West would get their scoring started in the middle of the second quarter when freshman quarterback Mitchell Irwin scored on a one yard quarterback keeper to cap a 12-play 64-yard scoring drive for the Senators. Caleb Hazelbaker’s made PAT tied the game at 7-7 with 5:57 left in the first half.
The game’s next score came on a four yard scoring rush by Triston Diltz with 3:52 left in the third quarter to put Oak Hill ahead of West 13-7 after a missed Harden PAT.
While neither team was able to capitalize much on the offensive side of the ball in the third quarter thanks to both sides’ fair share of penalties, Oak Hill would take their 13-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
After driving all the way down the field to have first and goal from the 2-yard line, West was able to force an Oak Hill turnover on downs at the Senators one yard line with 8:15 left in the game, setting up the chance for a Senators go-ahead drive as the fourth quarter ticked away.
“That stop showed a lot of heart in our guys,” Johnson said. “Them scoring there would have pushed it to two scores, so that was big. It shows the heart and character our guys played with tonight, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
But, as was the case for most of the second half, West was unable to create the offensive production they needed to get the go-ahead score.
In the second half, the Senators managed just two first downs while gaining just 55 yards of total offense in the second half.
A Senators turnover on downs or West turnovers set the Oaks up in prime scoring position for three late scores in the final three and a half minutes: Keaton Potter rushing scores of four and one yard followed by an Ethan Sickles 35-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown helped cement the game’s final score at 32-7.
In his first game as the Senators starter, Irwin finished Friday’s game 9/23 for 84 yards and two interceptions. Irwin’s connection with Luke Bradford, the Senator who Irwin replaced under center, was West’s best form of offense in Friday’s loss as the freshman Irwin connected with the junior Bradford for seven completions totaling 75 yards.
Bradford also rushed for 21 yards on three carries while William Journey led the Senators rushing attack with 71 yards on 17 carries.
“I think he did a great job for a freshman going out there for his first start,” Johnson said of Irwin. “I thought he handled himself really well. It got a little rough for him at the end of the game, but we got into desperation mode and sometimes that happens. But I thought for his first time out he did a great job.”
Friday’s game at The Rock also happened to be Senior Night for six West seniors: William Journey, Mitchell Malnar, Marshall Baker, Blake Partlow, Joe Igaz, and Caleb Journey.
“A lot of those guys have been a part of the great seasons we’ve had over these last few years,” Johnson said of his senior class. “They’re a great group of kids to work with, they’re very coachable. They’ve been good leaders for this team and we’re going to miss them.”
West will prepare to travel to rival Wheelerburg for their annual matchup, this year at Ed Miller Stadium in Wheelersburg. The Pirates won their fourth straight game Friday with a 42-0 shutout of Valley in Lucasville to clinch at least a share of their sixth straight SOC II football title.
Last year when the Pirates and Senators met in week ten and during the first round of the OHSAA football playoffs, Wheelersburg won both meetings over West by scores of 28-7 and 52-7.
Kickoff between the Pirates and Senators at Ed Miller Stadium is slated for 7 p.m.
Oak Hill – 7 0 6 19 – 32
West – 0 7 0 0 – 7
O – Keaton Potter, 1-yard run (Brock Harden PAT good), 8:47 1Q (7-0 O)
W – Mitchell Irwin, 1-yard run (Caleb Hazelbaker PAT good), 5:56 2Q (7-7)
O – Triston Diltz, 4-yard run (PAT no good), 3:52 3Q (13-7 O)
O – Potter, 4-yard run (2-point try failed), 3:13 4Q (19-7 O)
O – Potter, 1-yard run (PAT no good), 1:39 4Q (25-7 O)
O – Sickles, 35-yard fumble recovery (Brock Harden PAT good), :21 4Q (32-7 O)
|Yards (Rushing-Passing)||255 (246-9)||155 (71-84)|
|Time of Possession||22:12||25:48|
|Penalties||9 for 91||10 for 100|
Rushing – Oak Hill: Keaton Potter 19-111 2 TDs, Triston Diltz 23-106 TD, Noah Donley 7-29; West: William Journey 17-71, Luke Bradford 3-21, Carl Howard 2-4, Mitchell Irwin 6 – (-23) TD
Passing – Oak Hill: Isaac Morgan 3/10 9 yards; West: 9/23 84 yards 2 INTs
Receiving – Oak Hill: Jordan Morgan 1-13, Keaton Potter 2- (-4); West: Luke Bradford 7-75, Caleb Journey 1-6, Brandon Anderson 1-3
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved