Two of the regionâ€™s top junior high programs squared of Tuesday night in the battle of the unbeatens, but after four quarters of play, Oak Hill (3-1) were handed their first loss on the year 24-14 to Indianola Academy (4-0).
The Raiders had dominated their opponents all season by a combined score of 104-6 heading into Tuesdayâ€™s game, but after falling behind early, they struggled to catch up despite cutting the deficit to four points in the fourth quarter.
Down 18-6 at half time, Oak Hill took over possession in the third quarter and drove the ball down field all the way the IA 19 yard line eating up over seven minutes of the game clock, but failed to get any points after quarterback Riley Pierceâ€™s incomplete pass forced a turnover on downs.
Raiders head coach Carl Middleton said the team just couldnâ€™t overcome their big plays.
â€śThe one guy they had that was so fast, (Wheeler) Timbes did a lot of big plays for them,â€ť he said. â€śAnd they did a lot of things to shut our play makers down. They kept us guessing whether they would run a toss inside and outside. We just didnâ€™t make the plays we needed to.â€ť
On their first drive of the fourth quarter, the Raiders needed just five plays to get back in the ball game when Drew Riley, who rushed for 98 yards, found the end zone on a 36-yard score after breaking a handful of tackles down the sideline.
And after a two-point conversion, Oak Hill was back in the game 18-14 with less than six minutes remaining.
Indianola stretched their lead once again with another big play by Timbes, his third touchdown of the night, a 43-yard score to give the visitors a 10 point advantage with less than four minutes left to play.
The Raiders looked to mount another comeback but the drive was stalled on fourth and long when Pierce was intercepted and IA took over at the Oak Hill 33-yard line.
â€śThis is going to help the kids,â€ť Midllton said. â€śThey were 3-0 and they hadnâ€™t had a challenge until tonight. But these kids have a lot of heart and a lot of fight in them and theyâ€™re going to get better.â€ť
Indianola made a statement early when the opening kick-off was returned by Timbes for a 75-yard score.
Oak Hill responded at the start of the second quarter, but not without a little difficulty.
After two touchdowns were called back due to penalties, Pierce, 4-of-9 for 43 yards found Blake Henley from 17-yards out for the touchdown on their fifth attempt in the red zone.
The Colonels extended their lead in the second quarter after recovering a fumbled punt. Quarterback Jonathan Holland connected with Timbes on a 24-yard pass to make it 12-6.
Middleton said Indianola made it difficult all game long for the Raiders on the line of scrimmage and that was a big difference in the outcome.
â€śWeâ€™ve got a lot of young players on the offensive line and they got to get better,â€ť he said. â€śOur play makers can make plays in those situations, but when you get beat on the line of scrimmage you have to overcome a lot.â€ť
Oak Hill totaled 255 yards of offense on the night, led by the running game. Drew and Drake Riley combined for 131 yards while Samuel Harrell rushed for 32.
Oak Hill will be on the road next week when they take on Canton next Thursday.View more articles in: