Oak Harbor's 42-14 victory over Sheffield Brookside was a little bit closer than the final score would indicate.
With the score tied at 7, the Rockets recovered a Cardinal fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half at the Brookside 25-yard-line and, on the ensuing play, Oak Harbor quarterback Cole Wieirch ran it in on a draw to push the lead to 13-7. Jourdan Maguire, who made all six of his extra-point attempts, pushed the lead to 14-7 and the Rockets held the lead from there.
But it didn't come without some drama.
After trading possessions, Brookside got the ball back at its 40-yard-line midway thru the third quarter and covered 40 yards in its first two plays to move to Oak Harbor's 20. Two plays later, on third-and-5, Rocket defensive back Adam Swope made a touchdown-saving tackle of Cardinals quarterback Tyler O'Malley at the 12, setting up fourth-and-2. With the game hanging in the balance, O'Malley rolled right before being sacked by Dillon Glass and Jonathan Frederick to end the threat and swing momentum in Oak Harbor's favor.
With the drive starting at their 14, the Rockets needed just six plays to score, pushing the lead to 21-7 on Weirich's 63-yard scamper down the right sideline.
Weirich was magnificent, carrying the ball 15 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns to lead the rushing attack. Ben Genzman contributed as well with 19 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown that put Oak Harbor ahead, 7-0, midway thru the first quarter.
“We were lucky enough to get that turnover on the kickoff and that swung momentum in our favor,” Oak Harbor head coach Mike May said. “At halftime, we just talked about playing Rocket football. We started playing physical and controlled the line of scrimmage (in the second half). I was proud of our seniors for carrying us through.”
May was also impressed with the rushing attack, which netted 391 yards on 49 attempts, especially Weirich's performance.
“Cole's athleticism gives us another dimension and he makes plays,” May said. “And we were able to take control of the line of scrimmage.”
Weirich scored on an 80-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter to make it 28-7, and Kalob Vargas put the game away with a 78-yard interception that was returned for a touchdown with 8:33 remaining.
This Friday, the Rockets host Ottawa County rival Genoa (1-0). The Comets, a perennial power that has qualified for the playoffs six straight times, has beaten Oak Harbor in each of their last five matchups. And Genoa, which runs the Wing-T offense, defeated Waite, 65-13, in Week 1, a sign that they may again have another fine team.