Rockets pull away from 'Skins in rivalry game

PC's Nathan Stubblefield struggles for extra yards between two Oak Harbor defenders

In the end, Oak Harbor's physicality was just too much for Port Clinton.

Behind an offensive line that established control early in the game, the Rockets rushed for 421 yards in its 33-7 defeat of the Redskins.

Quarterback Cole Weirich rushed for 167 yards on 14 carries to go with two touchdowns and senior running back Ben Genzman carried it 18 times for 156 yards and three scores.

“We wanted to come out and establish control at the line of scrimmage,” Oak Harbor head coach Mike May said. “Our offensive line set the tone tonight. We wanted to leave no doubt that we were the more physical team tonight.

“We wanted to establish the run and limit big plays (on defense). We were concerned about their athletes getting out in space and we changed our coverage around a little bit and the defense played well.”

Port Clinton was stopped on its first drive when Rocket linebacker Jonathan Frederick stopped Tristen Mallory on third-and-2, forcing a Redskin punt.

The Rockets responded, taking it 72 yards in 10 plays to go ahead 6-0 with 5:24 remaining in the opening period. Oak Harbor ran the ball on every play with the key play coming on fourth-and-4 from the Port Clinton 32-yard-line when Weirich faked a handoff and rolled to the left and ran 12 yards for the first down. Three plays later, Genzman scored on a 3-yard run.

On the 'Skins' next drive, they got two first downs before Weirich intercepted Port Clinton quarterback Brandon Moore and returned the pick to midfield. The Rockets then drove 50 yards in eight plays, pushing the lead to 14-0 when Genzman scored on another 3-yard run and Weirich ran in the two-point conversion. 

After trading possessions, the 'Skins struck back, scoring on an 80-yard draw by Moore. His run started with a dash to the right before he eluded several defenders and raced down the sidelines for the touchdown. 

Oak Harbor, however, took back the momentum on the first play of its ensuing drive from the 45-yard-line as Weirich raced 55 yards for the touchdown. Jourdan Maguire's extra point pushed the lead to 21-7 and the Rockets never looked back.

On the touchdown, Weirich ran to the right and cut back to the left, leaving defenders behind him as he went untouched for nearly the entire run. 

“The key to the game was not to let them get any momentum,” Weirich said. “The offensive line blocked really well. It's very, very important the job they do. They do all the hard work and we get the credit.”

The offensive line, a unit consisting of Aaron Hopkins, Alex Heintz, Matt Laughlin, Vince Szabo and T.J. Lawrence was able to exert its will on a consistent basis as Oak Harbor rushed for 8.1 yards-per carry. Tight end Cliff Biggert and fullback Cobi Brough also helped create holes for Weirich and Genzman with their blocking.

“We talked all week about getting off the ball, making holes for the running backs,” Hopkins said. “It feels great that we helped in getting the job done. We take tons of pride in our job and the running backs always thank us (for blocking for them).”

Genzman also spoke about the importance of running the ball. 

“With conditions like this, you know you're going to have to run the ball,” he said. “That was the best we've played all year. I think we know a little bit more about ourselves (after the first four games).”

After another Weirich touchdown, this one on a 70-yard run, put Oak Harbor ahead 27-7 late in the second quarter, the 'Skins responded, driving all the way to the Rocket 4-yard-line with 31 seconds remaining, only to come up short. Moore connected with running back Emerson Lowe for 38 yards to help key the drive. Biggert made the key play for Oak Harbor, sacking Moore at the 15-yard-line on first-and-goal to push Port Clinton back and kill the drive. 

Port Clinton was able to move the ball at times with its passing attack as Moore completed 10-of-17 passes for 93 yards and an interception. He also did some damage on the ground, running nine times for 75 yards and a touchdown. 

Lowe caught seven passes for 71 yards and Nathan Stubblefield, Cal Laurel and Zach Kokina had one catch apiece.

“We didn't play well enough to win tonight,” Port Clinton head coach Beau Carmon said. “We haven't been able to stop teams; we're not stopping the run. We're not getting it done.

“Offensively, we're not consistent. We show flashes of greatness at times, but we're not scoring enough. When we can't run the ball, its puts pressure on Brandon and the receivers. (Moore) had a solid game tonight—he's the heartbeat of our offense.” 

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