By Bryan Davis
Friday night’s Oak Hill-Kirk game was not a district match. There were no direct playoff implications for either team, but for the Raiders of Oak Hill (3-6; 1-1), this game was just about as important as any they’ve played this year.
Coming off a dismal performance at Manchester the week before, the Raiders had to have a boost in confidence. With two games to go before facing Winston for a shot at winning district, there was no way the Raiders could go into that game with the level of play or confidence they had in Yazoo City.
The Kirk Raiders came in at 2-6 as well. Trying salvage the 2010 season, they played Oak Hill as hard as anyone has this year, eventually falling to the home Raiders 14-12.
“We had a great week of preparation,” said Oak Hill head coach Leroy Gregg. “The defense probably played their best game this year. We really tackled well on defense, and we got a lot of people to the ball on defense.”
The Raiders began the game with the ball at their own 32. They then commenced to drive the ball 11 plays for five first downs, including a fourth down conversion deep in Kirk territory. A fumble, however, at the Kirk 10 negated the four and a half minute drive.
Kirk quarterback Cade Moody could not get much going for his offense either, going three and out on the Raiders’ first drive.
Oak Hill’ second drive was marred by 25 yards worth of penalties that ended in a failed attempted fourth down conversion.
Kirk’s second keeper proved to be another three and out for the Oak Hill defense, who played well for all four quarters.
Oak Hill would end the opening frame with the ball, but they would punt two plays into the fourth. That play would set up the first score of the game, as Kirk engaged in a three-play drive, getting two first downs and a 40-yard touchdown run by Blake Hubbard to make it 6-0, with 10:07 to play in the half.
Oak Hill’s got the ball back and started another long drive, eating nearly five minutes off the clock. Doss Miller and Bo Sanford led the charge, with a dominant running game. Deep inside Kirk territory, however, a fumbled snap on first and 10 sent the Raiders back nine yards.
Miller was then taken down for a loss of six yards, setting up third down and 25. Oak Hill’s quarterback, Jeb Stevens, dropped back, dumped a short pass off to Miller, who ran the ball 24 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. Reid Posey added the extra point to make it 7-6 Oak Hill with 5:28 to play in the first half.
The rest of the half was a battle of the defenses. Kirk turned the ball over on downs after four plays on their next possession. Oak Hill followed with a three-and-out.
It looked as if Kirk was in business, less than a minute to go in the second quarter, but Sanford reached up and picked off Moody to end the threat and sent the two teams to the locker room, still with one point separating them.
The Oak Hill defense continued to shine early in the third quarter, forcing a three-and-out on the first series by Kirk.
This time, the home Raiders would take advantage of the punt, going 68 yards on three first downs, topped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Miller to make it 14-6 after Posey added the PAT.
With 7:23 on the clock, Kirk got the ball back, but they were once again forced out after four plays. Oak Hill would go three-and-out as well on their next drive.
After the punt from Oak Hill, Kirk had its best drive of the night, going 63 yards on four first downs to score after Hubbard went in from the three yard line. This made it 14-12, after a failed two-point conversion, with 1:38 remaining in the third quarter.
For the next 13 minutes and 38 seconds, Oak Hill’s defense pounded out one of its best performances of the season, allowing no more points to Kirk.
The offense ate up precious time on the clock, as the defense shut down Moody and Hubbard, two players who had jump-started Kirk’s success in the first half.
“Our confidence level took a big hit last week,” Gregg said of the game at Manchester. “It’s our own fault, but even still, one of the things I told them before the ball game was for us to win this division, and we still can win this division, we have to change our confidence level. We have to do it by winning ball games, and we did just that tonight.”
The senior Miller finished the game with 214 rushing yards, to go along with his four-yard touchdown run and a 24-yard touchdown reception.
Sanford, with limited offensive playing time in the second half, rushed for 46 yards, and he had an interception on defense.
Chance Livingston had five carries in the second half for 57 yards.
Next week, Oak Hill finishes out its home schedule with a contest against Marshall Academy. It will be a non-district match as well.