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LOUISVILLE - After coming off a tough loss in week one, the Oak Hill Raiders had an even tougher opponent in week two.
Winston Academy had nearly 400 yards of total offense Friday as they rolled to a 41-6 win over the Raiders (0-2)in district action. It was the second straight week the Patriots (2-0) have scored at least 40 points.
"We still got to improve our tackling," Raiders head coach Benjie Merchant said after the game. "We ran the ball a little better, but Winston's a great team. We knew it was going to be tough from the get go and it was."
Merchant however, knows the Raiders can only go up from here on out.
"We just got to better," he said. "Keep our heads up, keep pounding the weight room and keep our program on track."
The Raiders defense did not break early in the first quarter, coming up with a big stop on fourth and two at around midfield to set up decent field position to try and get the early edge. The four play drive lasted nearly two minutes before they were forced to punt.
The Patriots responded on the very next play from scrimmage with an 84-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Sullivan to Orion Daily. The touchdown however was waived off after Winston's Smith Ashley put a hit on Raiders junior quarterback Conner Baird behind the play resulting in his ejection from the game. Baird was carted off the field with a concussion.
Merchant said he was responsive when he was being placed in the ambulance.
The penalty didn't have much effect in stalling Winston's momentum as Sullivan and Baily connected again for 52 yards and setting up the game's first score, a five yard run from Taylor Moody with 4:59 left to play.
The Raiders, starting from their own 38-yard line looked to bounce and got a good start on their next drive with a 12-yard run from Reid Posey. The drive would be stalled after the Raiders gave up a fumble in their own territory, setting up another Moody touchdown for the Patriots. A 33-yard run for a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
With Clay Henley taking snaps, Oak Hill again looked promising on offense. Henley, who was 2-for-2 for 23 yards, connected with Chance Livingston and Posey for a pair of first downs, but couldn't muster anything after that as they turned the ball over on downs.
Winston extended the lead on their next possession on the arm of Sullivan who threw three complete passes including an 11-yard touchdown to Parker Bullock for a 21-0 advantage with 5:51 to play in the first half. Sullivan, who racked up 279 yards in the win over Sylva-Bay, finished 11-of-15 for 184 yards and four touchdowns.
After another Oak Hill fumble, Winston padded their lead a little more with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Sullivan to Zach Taylor with 4:28 left to play in the half.
Jeb Stevens, who missed the first game with a leg injury, returned under center for the Raiders on their next drive trying to get Oak Hill on the board before the break. But again were forced to punt.
Three consecutive passes by Sullivan, including a 46-yard touchdown pass to Daily, gave the Patriots a 34-0 lead at the half.
The Raiders came back in the third quarter, clicking on all cylinders and running the ball more effectively, but more importantly, moving the chains.
Posey, who was the team's leading rusher with 84-yards, had three carries on that drive including a game-best 34-yard scramble to get the Raiders within a yard of the goal line. A fourth and goal stance by the Patriots kept the visitors off the scoreboard. But Oak Hill didn't have wait long for their first offensive touchdown of the season.
Posey recovered a fumble at the one yard and seconds later would score Oak Hill's lone touchdown to cut the deficit to 34-6 with 6:05 to play in the third quarter.
Merchant said he was happy with the running game in the second half and was pleased with how the team starting gaining momentum.
"We'll take that and we'll build on it and see what we can do," he said.
The score would remain the same until the fourth quarter, when the Patriots, who had scored on five of their last nine possessions in the game, added one more with 11:25 left to play in the game with a 75 yard punt return by Moody.
The Raiders will be searching for their first win next week when they travel to Indianola who are coming off an 18-6 loss to Lee Academy.View more articles in: