In a back-and-forth game that featured three first-half ties, Oak Harbor took the lead for good late in the second quarter before slowly building a lead to defeat St. Mary Central Catholic, 42-21.
The win, which came after two consecutive losses, moves the Rockets to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the Sandusky Bay Conference. The Panthers, meanwhile, drop to 2-6 and 1-4 in the league.
The trajectory of the game changed late in the second quarter with 1:09 left when Oak Harbor broke a 21-21 tie to take the lead for good at 28-21 as quarterback Cole Weirich hit Josh Sarahman from 27 yards out for a touchdown.
SMCC responded, driving to the Rocket 12-yard-line before safety Jourdan Maguire knocked away a pass from Panther quarterback Trevor Fitzthum in the end zone on the final play of the first half.
The Rockets stopped SMCC on the opening drive of the third quarter, forcing an incompletion on fourth-and-3 at the OH 48 before responding with a touchdown to push the lead to 35-21. The six-play drive ended when running back Ben Genzman scored from 24 yards out with eight minutes remaining. For the game, Genzman ran 25 times for 218 yards and two scores and Andrew Heberling carried it 16 times for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Cole Weirich finished with 13 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown and completed 1-of-2 passes for 27 yards and a score. In all, the Rockets rushed 57 times for 493 yards.
Following a Panther turnover midway thru the fourth quarter, Heberling scored on a 65-yard touchdown to make it 42-21, accounting for the final points.
“We were just trying to run it at them, and fortunately we were able to break a few,” Oak Harbor head coach Mike May said. “We knew their offense could score points. We were going to just try and keep running the ball at them and that's what we were able to do. We were able to come out and control the clock in the second half. That was a big factor.”
The Panthers got on the board first, scoring on a 10-yard pass from Fitzthum to Denarius Harris with 2:08 left in the first quarter before Oak Harbor responded, driving 64 yards in seven plays before scoring on a 23-yard run by Heberling with 11:25 remaining in the second quarter.
The Rockets forced SMCC to go three-and-out and scored on the first play of their next possession when Weirich ran it in from 49 yards out to make it 14-7.
This Friday, the Rockets host the Perkins Pirates, the top team in the SBC. Perkins, which is 8-0 and 5-0 in the league, has been dominant this season, winning every game by at least 18 points. The Pirates, who are currently ranked fourth with 16.79 points in Division III, Region 8, employ the Wing-T formation on offense.