OAK HILL, W.Va. — Entering Friday’s contest against Class AA No. 9 Shady Spring, Oak Hill had allowed 82 points over its last two games.
The No. 12 Red Devils split those contests, suffering a 47-26 loss at Nicholas County, before recording a 48-35 win over PikeView ahead of their bye week.
Oak Hill coach Jason Blakenship was hopeful an extra week of preparation would help his defense improve against the Tigers, but not even he could have imagined the effort put forth Friday.
The Red Devils forced a pair of turnovers and allowed just one scoring drive as their defense delivered to lead the way in a 21-6 win over Shady Spring.
Before Friday, the Tigers had scored at least 24 points in every game, including 33 or more points in four contests.
“Our defense responded. They were challenged and they’ve heard a lot of negativity, but they really came to play,” Blankenship said. “The two weeks of preparation was key. We have so many young, inexperienced guys on our defense and it really seemed to help them.”
Each team punted on its first possession, before Shady Spring (5-2) came up with the game’s first turnover when Terymykal Alexander recovered a Logan Lawhorn fumble.
However, two plays later, the Red Devils (6-1) got the ball right back as Jarrett McFall recovered a fumble on a handoff.
Both defenses continued to dominate and McFall intercepted a Drew Clark pass that allowed the Red Devils to start a series on the Shady Spring 15-yard line with 4:54 to play in the opening half.
“Oak Hill played hard and aggressive,” Shady Spring coach Vince Culicerto said. “They came after us and the extra week looked like it helped them.”
From the 15, Oak Hill quarterback Khori Bass covered the necessary distance on three runs, the last of which was a 3-yard scamper for a touchdown. Addison Hayes converted the point-after attempt to give the Red Devils a 7-0 lead 4:26 before halftime.
The Tigers had an immediate answer though, scoring their only points of the game on Tyler Bragg’s 68-yard touchdown run with 3:31 left in the second quarter. The point-after try failed, leaving Oak Hill with a 7-6 lead.
After forcing Oak Hill into a third-and-6 with 2:21 left in the half, the Tigers elected to call timeout in hopes of forcing a punt and getting the ball back.
Instead, they got the ball back with an eight-point deficit as Bass delivered a 76-yard touchdown pass to speedster Abraham Farrow on the first play after the break.
“That gave us a lot of confidence going into halftime,” Blankenship said. “It really helped motivate us.”
Oak Hill settled for the 14-6 halftime lead, and after each team punted on its opening possession of the second half, the Tigers took over at their own 14 with 6:15 on the third quarter clock.
A 27-yard run by Bragg, along with a 36-yard pass from Clark to Joseph Cantley, helped put the Tigers inside the Oak Hill 10.
After two runs netted 4 yards, Shady Spring was faced with a third-and-goal at the 4. An incomplete pass forced fourth-and-goal, on which Clark completed a pass to Cantley, who slipped just before catching it and fell 1 yard short of reaching the end zone.
“We got all the way down the field and came up empty,” Culicerto said. “It was just one of those deals where we didn’t capitalize.”
The Red Devils took over at their 1 and put together a 12 play, 99-yard drive that was capped off by Farrow’s 36-yard TD run on the third play of the fourth quarter.
“He makes plays with his speed and vision, but he has that want to about him now,” Blankenship said of Farrow. “On each touch, he really wants in the end zone.”
Bass had several key plays on the drive, including a 23-yard run, and the Red Devils were left with a 21-6 lead with 10:29 to play.
“Our kids really look to him as the man,” Blankenship said of Bass. “Any short yardage situation tonight was all his.”
Shady Spring got the ball back twice more, but was forced to punt nearly halfway through the final quarter, before turning it over on downs on its last possession.