OAK HILL — The turnover bug bit the Valley Indians again, and the Oak Hill Oaks only added insult with a massive ground assault.
That’s because visiting Valley committed three turnovers, and allowed 609 rushing yards against the Oaks, as Oak Hill captured a 42-28 Southern Ohio Conference Division II football victory on Friday night at Davis Stadium in Oak Hill.
Both teams are now 1-1, as Friday’s affair marked the SOC II opener in this regular-season shortened campaign.
The Indians, thanks in part to two critical turnovers in Oak Hill territory through the first three quarters, found themselves trailing by 21 points three times.
Against Northwest last week, Valley lost four fumbles —despite winning 28-6.
The Indians did manage to get within a touchdown at 35-28 with nine minutes remaining, but less than a minute later —with 8:20 to play — the Oaks’ Alex Firpo finished off a memorable night with a 73-yard sprint to paydirt to make it a 14-point game (42-28) again.
Conor Dickens then sealed the win for Oak Hill, intercepting Andrew Andronis at the Oaks’ 16-yard-line near the midpoint of the fourth.
That was actually the Indians’ second turnover in the red zone, as a first-quarter fumble at the Oaks’ 17 wasted a nice early Valley possession.
Valley scored all three of its touchdowns trailing by 21 points each time, including a 1-yard sneak by Andronis in the second quarter.
That made it 28-14 at halftime with the extra-point kick.
Trailing 21-0, the Indians got on the board with six minutes remaining in the second — on a 22-yard Andronis pass to Ty Perkins.
With 44 seconds left in the third, Andronis found Jayden Duncan in the end zone from 13 yards out to make it 35-21.
The Indians then finally got to within a touchdown three minutes into the fourth —when George Arnett scooped up an Oak Hill fumble and returned it 94 yards the other way.
But Firpo, who finished with a massive 155 yards on only four carries, immediately answered for the Oaks on his 73-yard dash.
It was Firpo’s second touchdown, as he ran in from 29 yards with 4:51 left in the third to follow up Andronis’ initial interception —which was picked off by A.J. Harrison and returned for 50 yards.
Firpo’s first TD made it 35-14.
The Oaks’ impressive T-formation running game amassed 609 yards on 64 rushes, as five backs had at least four carries and 35 yards.
Oak Hill had just one pass attempt, which was incomplete.
Brandon Beam, on 19 carries, blew up for 213 yards and two touchdowns within the first 15 minutes and 20 seconds.
His 10-yard run capped off an opening 12-play, 75-yard drive, and made it 7-0 only four minutes and 25 seconds in.
Almost a full dozen minutes later, at the 8:40 mark of the second, Beam made it 21-0 on a 19-yard TD run.
Dickens dialed up a 39-yard scoring scamper with 40 seconds left in the first frame for the 14-0 advantage —as he added 116 yards on 16 carries.
Cameron Kerns chipped in 98 yards on 13 totes, while Brock Harden —who converted all six of Oak Hill’s extra points —had 35 yards on eight attempts, including his 19-yard touchdown run which made it 28-7 with 5:13 before halftime.
The Oaks are at defending division champion Wheelersburg on Friday night, while Valley will host Waverly in the SOC II.
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