OAK HILL - The Oak Hill Oaks put themselves directly in the driver's seat of the Southern Ohio Conference Division I title chase after decisively defeating the Sciotoville East Tartans 36-12 Friday night at Davis Stadium in Oak Hill.
With the win, the Oaks record improved to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the SOC I and Oak Hill is now the only unbeaten team in the division. East slipped to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in SOC I play. The Tartans are tied with Symmes Valley for second-place in the division.
Although two league games remain for both schools those opponents are not expected to be a challenge to either team, although the Tartans and Vikings do face-off next week in what will be the battle for second place.
In a game expected to be a high-scoring affair between two high-powered offenses turned into one dominated by the Oaks on both sides of the ball. East came into the contest averaging 45 points per game and over 400 yards in total offense. But Oak Hill held the Tartans to a mere 12 points and allowed them only141 total yards of offense with 123 of those coming through the air -74 of those yards came on two completions - both of which resulted in touchdowns.
"Our kids came out tonight in the right frame of mind," said Oak Hill head coach Nathan Dugan shortly after the game. "Our defense came out and stopped them on two quick three and outs enabling our offense to drive down the field and get a quick score. That proved to be a big factor because our offensive line controlled them up front and gave our backs lanes to run through, and we got good games out of Walker Smith, Bayley Clutters and Zach Fisher.
"That's what we were looking for this week. We challenged our runners to step up, and we challenged our defense to stop the powerful offense of East and they did just that"
Zach Fisher led the Oaks and all rushers with 173 yards on 28 carries followed by Bayley Clutters with 156 yards on 20 tries and Walker Smith added 74 yards on 14 attempts. Fisher and Smith had a touchdown a piece while Clutters ran into the end zone three times and added a two-point conversion. Ramsey Sites was perfect on all four of his extra point attempts.
The game got off to a rather ominous start when the Oaks fumbled and East recovered on the second play from scrimmage. But the defense stepped up as the Tartans ran three plays that resulted in three straight losses.
The Oaks marched 48-yards in six-plays on their next possession, as Walker Smith scored on a 12 yard run with and Sites extra point made it 7-0 with 6:44 left in the opening quarter.
Oak Hill had success moving the ball on the ground the next two possessions but both drives stalled because of penalties. Fortunately, the defense stood strong against East, forcing one punt while Taylin McCain set up the second Oaks score after he intercepted Brady Douthett at the East 35-yard line.
The Oaks offense completely crossed up the East defense on the first play from scrimmage when Fisher took a counter play around the right-end for 35-yards untouched for the score. The Sites extra-point made it 14-0 with 5:37 remaining in the half.
East responded on its ensuing possession, as Douthett completed three straight passes including two of 28 and 20 yards to wide-out JD Hatcher, the second of which put the Tartans on the scoreboard. However, their two-point conversion attempt failed and the Oaks led 14-6 going in at the half.
The Oaks benefitted from an unsportsmanlike penalty against East on their first possession of the second half. Clutter capped a 5-play, 45-yard drive on a 21-yard touchdown run just three-minutes into the third quarter to take a 21-6 lead.
Clutters added touchdown runs of 20 and 14 yards on Oak Hill's next two possessions to push the score to 35-6.
East closed out scoring when as Douthett and Mackie Kingery hooked up for a 54-yard touchdown pass at the 6:49 mark of the game. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the final score of 35-12 stood.
This game offered plenty of playoff points for the winner, as the Oaks moved up two spots to sixth in the Division V computer-rankings in Region 19. Sciotoville East slipped to ninth in Division VII, Region 27.
Up next, the Oaks will go on the road to take on the Eastern Eagles this Friday, while the Tartans will play at Symmes Valley.