BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — It had been since the 2016 season that Bluefield had taken the field following a loss before Friday’s matchup against Oak Hill at Mitchell Stadium.
After the Beavers had their 20-game win streak snapped with last Friday’s 17-3 setback against Lord Botetourt, Va., Bluefield coach Fred Simon was eager to see his team’s response against the much-improved Red Devils.
Simon got just the kind of performance he was looking for from the Beavers, who scored 42 unanswered points in the first half of a 49-6 win over the Red Devils.
“We needed to know how we’re going to respond when things don’t go perfect,” Simon said. “That’s what makes the game of football really great. Things don’t always go your way. Whether it’s a player not getting to play or things going against you like breaks, you have to overcome that. I was proud of our players for doing that.”
Neither team scored after halftime and both quarters in the second half were reduced to 8 minutes.
After Bluefield (7-1) forced an Oak Hill (6-2) punt on the game’s opening possession, the Beavers got great field position by blocking the punt.
The Beavers then scored on their first play from scrimmage as Arnold Martin took a handoff 34 yards to the end zone. Kaulin Parris made his first of seven point-after kicks to give Bluefield a 7-0 lead at the 8:28 mark of the opening quarter.
Martin recovered an Oak Hill fumble on the Red Devils’ second series, but Bluefield gave the ball right back after Jamere ‘Juice’ Edwards lost a fumble that Antwan Pagan recovered.
Starting at the Bluefield 17-yard line, Oak Hill scored on its first play when Abraham Farrow took a handoff and got to the edge for the score. The extra point try failed, leaving the Beavers with a 7-6 lead and 5:15 left in the opening quarter.
Pagan recovered a Jahim House fumble on the game’s next series to give Oak Hill the ball at the Bluefield 29, but they turned it over on downs in four plays, giving the Beavers possession back at their 20.
Following a 36-yard run by Edwards, Martin scored again — this time on a 44-yard run that upped his team’s lead to 14-6 with 3:18 left in the first quarter.
“The effort of Oak Hill was very good early,” Simon said. “We overcame that some and then we kept giving effort and things just worked out. We had a couple big plays. Oak Hill played hard. We just took advantage of some things after the fourth down. That fourth down stop was crucial for us.”
On Oak Hill’s next series, a fumbled snap was recovered by the Beavers’ Drake Mullins, who raced untouched to the end zone on a 21-yard return to give Bluefield a 21-6 advantage.
Bluefield added to its lead on the second play of the second quarter. One play after Chandler Cooper threw a 3-yard pass to Ronnell Blevins on fourth-and-2, Edwards reached the end zone on a 32-yard run that made it 28-6 with 11:11 left in the first half.
“We had to find a way to get the job done,” Cooper said. “In the first half, the defense made a lot of stops for us and created some turnovers. Drake Mullins had a fumble recovery and that got the intensity going.”
The Beavers continued to pour it on, going 47 yards in six plays on their next series and scoring on Cooper’s 5-yard pass to House.
Edwards intercepted Khori Bass in Bluefield territory on the next series, and the Beavers needed only three plays to cover 67 yards, scoring on Cooper’s 34-yard pass to a wide open Mullins.
Edwards’ 21-yard touchdown run 1:27 before halftime proved to be the game’s final TD.
“We’ve seen a lot of people dodge Bluefield. They have a tough time scheduling,” Oak Hill coach Jason Blankenship said. “And I’ve told the kids, ‘As long as I’m the head coach, we’re going to continue to play Bluefield.’ And we’ll learn from our mistakes and learn from playing against a very good football team year in and year out.
“I thought we came out with some energy early and then some things didn’t go our way.”