Last Friday night, the Benton Academy Raiders (1-3) came to Phebe to take on the Eagles of Hebron Christian School (1-4), and they scored 46 points off the Eagle defense and special teams.
Two nights ago, a different set of Raiders came to Hebron, but they brought the same results.
The Oak Hill Academy Raiders (1-4) brought their best play of the season to the Eagles’ field, and they defeated Hebron 46-12.
“I felt like we made some mistakes in the first half,” said Oak Hill head coach Leroy Gregg. “I felt like our mistakes kept them in the ball game. We eliminated those mistakes in the second half.”
Oak Hill had their best half, in the third and fourth quarters, since their opening night second half performance against Heritage, when they out-scored the Patriots 14-0. On Friday, they out-dueled Hebron in the second half 26-0.
Coming into the game, it was no secret that the Raiders had numerous injuries that further depleted an already short roster.
“You just have to get a lot of different people ready to play a lot of positions,” Gregg said. “That’s what we do. You have to create depth when you have people banged up.”
The Raiders’ first-quarter touchdown, with 3:12 left on the clock, marked their first lead of the season. It took them two possessions to drive the ball into the end zone, but it was worth the wait.
Jeb Stevens was acting as quarterback at the time, and he connected with fellow sophomore Conner Baird for a 39 yard touchdown pass, giving his team the early 6-0 advantage.
After a failed PAT, Hebron got the ball back, but they would not be able to make anything happen before the opening period’s clock ran to zero.
The second quarter spelled more trouble for the Eagles, who came into the game with one win in four games. Oak Hill was still seeking its first win, and the Raiders knew they had to pad their lead.
The Eagles, a lot like their game against Benton last week, had some surges on offense, but they had a hard time getting into Raider territory early on. For this reason, they were set up to punt, with 10:17 to go in the half.
The kick went up, and it was caught by Stevens at the Eagle 40. He ducked and dodged tacklers, taking the ball all the way back to the end zone for a 12-0 lead for his Raiders. A two-point conversion made it an even 14-0.
Hebron’s next possession ended in a punt as well, but Oak Hill was unable to do anything with their drive. With 7:57 on the clock, the Raiders punted back to the Eagles, setting up Hebron’s first scoring drive of the night.
Freshman Greg Crosthwait opened the drive with a seven yard gaing. Jae Shaw followed with a modest three-yard rush.
Junior running back Marques Robinson then took the ball for his longest gain of the night, a 37 yard rush to the Raider five yard line.
Before long, the Eagles were stationed inside the two yard line. At West Memphis Christian, two weeks ago, quarterback Chad Smith sneaked the ball in twice against the Black Knights.
On Friday, the play worked to perfection again, as Smith dove into the end zone for the Eagles’ first score, with 7:35 to go in the half.
Now trailing 20-6, another touchdown would put the game in reach going into the half for Hebron.
The kickoff proved huge for Hebron, as the ball kicked off the leg of an Oak Hill player, causing a fumble that was recovered by the Eagles at midfield.
The Eagles then went to work on their second consecutive scoring drive. The 59 yard drive culminated in a touchdown pass from Smith to Taylor Coggins, a 25 yard toss that made it 20-12, a score that would remain the same until the end of the half.
“In the first half, we couldn’t have played any better,” Hebron head coach Greg Watkins said. “The execution was real good. We had a few breakdowns on offense and defense, but in the second half, the speed caught up with us.”
Hebron had given up a lot of points in the first two quarters, but they were still a mere touchdown away from a tie.
Oak Hill’s defense came back to the field in the third quarter, ready to push Heborn back from their end zone for the rest of the night. The Raider offense, which had a hard time getting things going in the first four games, let out some frustrations in the second half as well.
That started with a drive that took nearly four minutes off the clock to start the second half. With 8:33 to go in the third, Doss Miller rushed for the third time on the drive, making it 11 yards into the end zone for a touchdown and a 26-12 lead.
When Hebron got the ball back, they were unable to score, and they also ate a lot of time off the clock, that was dwindling fast.
On Oak Hill’s next drive, it was Bo Sanford who got into the mix. He had a 10 yard rush to open things up.
When the Raiders crossed into the red zone, it was Sanford again who was the go-to man. He took the ball from the 16 yard line, and he pushed his way in for a score that gave his team a 32-12 lead, with 2:28 to go in the third.
The Raiders were not through in that period. Hebron had a quick three and out drive and a punt that landed Oak Hill at the Raider 39 yard line.
With the clock down to seconds in the third, the handoff went to Miller, who took the ball 60 yards to pay dirt and a 38-12 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter went by swiftly for the two teams. Hebron could not generate any offense.
Halfway through the final 12 mintues, Chance Livingston got a chance to enter the scoring fray with a 40 yard rush to the end zone, with 7:38 to go on the clock. The 46-12 lead would remain that way, as Stevens took a knee on the final four plays of the game for Oak Hill to end the contest.
“I feel good about the first half, but in the second half, I was disappointed,” Watkins said. “We showed a lot of improvement in that first half. If we can bring that full game against Central Holmes, I feel real good about it.”
Oak Hill finished the game with 523 total offensive yards. They rushed for 405, and they passed for 118.
Stevens and Baird split time at quarterback. Stevens was 3-of-8 in the air for 69 yards and a touchdown. Stevens also rushed 73 yards on five carries for a touchdown, and he returned a 40 yard punt for a touchdown. Stevens also caught a 46 yard touchdown pass.
Baird was 2-of-4 in the air for 49 yards and a touchdown. He rushed the ball three times for 33 yards. He caught a pass on a two-point conversion as well.
Miller led the rushing with 135 yards on 18 carries. He scored one touchdown.
Sanford scored a rushing touchdown, gaining 57 yards on the night, on six carries.
Livingston had 107 yards rushing, on nine carries, and a touchdown.
Oak Hill will be back home to face Carroll next week. Hebron will have the week off to prepare for Central Holmes, as district play begins in two weeks.