OAK HILL — After Friday’s game between Minford and Oak Hill was postponed after nine minutes of play, it was clear that the Falcon offense needed a tune-up.
So on Saturday morning, Minford did just that.
“We came in with a walk through this morning. We got re-focused and came out ready to play some football,” Minford head coach Brent Daniels said.
That tune-up had the Falcons running smooth on Saturday.
After a 23 hour, 40 minute weather delay, the Minford (2-0) came out hot and cruised down the stretch to beat the Oak Hill (0-2) 29-15 on Saturday evening.
Saturday’s game resumed with Oak Hill in possession of the ball at their own 48, trailing 3-0.
The Minford defense picked up right where it had left off on Friday, as Michael Stiltner intercepted Oak Hill’s Lane Burdine on the first snap after the restart.
But following the turnover, the Falcon offense faltered. They went three-and-out on the following drive, and Eli Daniels’ punt was blocked by the Oak defense.
However, the Falcons were able to jump on a resulting fumble to keep their drive alive. That fumble set up a 33-yard Jacob Perry field goal to give Minford a 6-0 lead at the close of the first quarter.
The fumble recovery was one of three turnovers the Falcons came up with on special teams throughout the game.
The fist quarter may have been marked by Minford’s defense, but it was its offense that led the way in the second. After another Oak Hill three-and-out, Minford’s Noah Gray found Sean Gambill streaking down the far sideline for a 38-yard completion. Two plays later, Kody Kennedy found the end zone for the first time on the evening.
Gray and Gambill would hook up five times on Saturday for a total of 79 yards.
A drive later, Gray went deep again, this time for a wide-open Michael Stiltner. He waltzed in from 63 yards out to make the Minford lead 20-0.
The Falcons’ new-look spread offense — a stark change from their traditional wing-T look — netted 162 passing yards throughout the evening.
“We’ve got some good receivers, we’re trying to get it out there and throw it a little bit more…and open our run game up,” Daniels said.
But just before halftime, Minford gift-wrapped a touchdown by fumbling a fair catch in the red zone. Just three plays later, Burdine found Zach Fisher from 11 yards out to make the halftime score 20-7.
The second half was marked by great defense and mistake-prone offense by both teams. Both offenses combined for just 111 yards of offense in the final two quarters.
The half’s only offensive score came after Minford recovered its third Oak Hill muffed punt of the game. The Falcons took over on the Oak Hill 10, and it took just four plays for Gray to find the end zone on a one-yard sneak.
Twice more in the second half, the Falcons found themselves in scoring position. However, penalties kept them behind the chains and out of the end zone. Minford committed six penalties for 50 yards in the second half on Saturday.
“We just have to sharpen up. We got tired, we have to get in there and grind. We can’t have the mental lapses,” Daniels said.
But where the Falcon offense failed, the defense picked up the slack. Minford surrendered just one first down in the second half, limiting the Oaks to -8 rushing yards. They even recorded a safety, when Oak Hill punter Matt Gilliland couldn’t handle a long snap in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Minford limited Oak Hill to an average of just 1.34 yards per play throughout the game while forcing six turnovers.
“The defense played great. We had one series, the muffed punt, got down there in short territory and a couple penalties,” Daniels said. “We just have a bunch of kids flying to the football and having fun.”
Oak Hill did add a late touchdown when Cody Swann scooped up a Gray fumbled and returned it 62 yards to cut the lead to 29-15, but that’s as close as they would come. The Oaks’ ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Falcons, and Minford ran out the clock to seal the win.
Swann also proved to be Oak Hill’s rushing leader with 26 yards on four carries.
Both teams take the field again on Friday, as Minford travels to take on Paint Valley and Oak Hill hosts Rock Hill.
Min — J. Perry 27 yd FG (3-0) (5:31)
Min — J. Perry 33 yd FG (6-0) (0:01)
Min — K. Kennedy 6 yd rush (J. Perry PAT) (13-0) (9:07)
Min — M. Stiltner 63 yd pass from N. Gray (J. Perry PAT) (20-0) (7:29)
OH — Z. Fisher 11 yd pass from L. Burdine (R. Sites PAT) (20-7) (0:23)
Min — N. Gray 1 yd rush (J. Perry PAT) (4:52)
Min — M. Gilliland tackled in end zone for safety (29-7) (11:51)
OH — C. Swann 62 yd fumble return (C. Swann 2 pt conv) (29-15) (4:45)
Passing — Minford: N. Gray 8-23-162; Oak Hill: L. Burdine 7-20-51.
Rushing — Minford: N. Gray 16-46, T. Compton 10-36, K. Kennedy 11-29, M. Stiltner 5-17, S. Gambill 2-3, C. Conklin 1-2, C. Gaines 3-0; Oak Hill: C. Swann 4-26, Z. Fisher 1-11, W. Harris 1-10, D. Stewart 1-4.
Receiving — Minford:S. Gambill 5-79, M. Stiltner 1-63, L. Caudill 1-16, B. Veach 1-4; Oak Hill: Z. Fisher 2-9, A. Kerns 2-5, C. Coy 1-3, W. Harris 9-1, L. Burdine 7-(-2), M. Gilliland 3-(-8).
Minford 2-0; Oak Hill 0-2.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter