The Oak Hill Academy Raiders (3-3;1-2) offense has had its struggles thus far in 2012, but Friday nightâ€™s home match against Canton was the roughest outing yet for the team.
Eight turnovers, including seven fumbles and a lone interception, would make all the difference in a 48-15 Tiger win over the Raiders.
â€śYou canâ€™t turn the ball over seven times against a good team like Canton,â€ť said head coach Daniel Merchant after the game.
The Raiders had a rebounding second half in which they were only outscored 13-8, but the 35-7 score after the first two quarters gave Canton enough momentum to hold on in the end.
The first score came for Canton about two and half minutes into the game on an eight-yard touchdown run.
The Raiders would hold Canton to a 6-0 score going into the second quarter, but with 10:21 to play in the half, the Tigers struck again for eight, including at two-point conversion.
The most consistent offensive player on the night for Oak Hill was Samuel Harrell, who donned a red, white and blue uniform in honor of his father, Bob Harrell who is returning from an Army mission in Afghanistan next week.
Harrell took that kickoff play back 27 yards, but that was not his longest on the night. That good field position would eventually lead to an Oak Hill touchdown. Connor Baird led the offense down the field at quarterback, as Jeb Stevens, Harrell and Drake Riley gained yards on the ground.
With 7:38 to play in the half, Baird connected with Jacob Pickens for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 after the PAT was added.
That would be all the scoring for Oak Hill in the first half, but Canton would pile on the points. Over the next seven and a half minutes, Canton would add three more touchdowns to take a 35-7 lead into the locker room.
The Raiders came out strong in the second half. Determined not to give up, Drake Riley recovered a lost fumble, one of Cantonâ€™s rare mistakes on offense, with five minutes to play in the third.
\Stationed at the 31 yard line, Drew Riley gained 15 yards to put Oak Hill closer to its second score. Finally with 1:50 to play in the quarter, Drake Riley pushed it in from six yards out to make it 35-13. Jeb Stevens would then add a two-point conversion run to make it 35-15.
That would be the last noise the Oak Hill offense would make on the night.
Canton tacked on two more touchdowns to widen the already sizable lead.
â€śWe did a lot better job in the second half,â€ť Merchant said. â€śWe have a good team here, and they have a lot of fight in them. Thatâ€™s good to see.â€ť
The Oak Hill offense had 237 total yards on the night, 202 on the ground and 35 in the air.
Harrell had 11 carries for 89 yards. Drake Riley had 7 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Stevens carried the ball nine times for 21 yards, not counting his two-point conversion run. Drew Riley had five carries for 18 yards.
Baird finished the night 4-for-10 in the passing game, with 35 yards and touchdown. He had one interception. Dickens had 13 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Oak Hill will attempt to rebound next week on the road against conference rival Leake Academy.