BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
HURON — Jac Alexander and Clay Schulte have both had successful individual performances this season, but their most recent showing may have been the best one yet.
The duo combined for 398 rushing yards as Oak Harbor defeated Huron, 42-10, to remain perfect on the season. Schulte carried the ball 22 times and rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns while Alexadner had 25 carries for 180 yards and two scores.
The Rockets (7-0, 2-0 SBC Bay) controlled the game throughout, moving the ball at will while keeping the Tigers (5-2, 1-1) in check. Oak Harbor had 25 first downs to Huron’s 10 and out-gained the Tigers in total yards, 530-205.
The Rockets held Huron on the game’s first possession and took over at their own 44-yard line. In just four plays, Oak Harbor scored on a 39-yard touchdown run up the middle by Alexander, giving the Rockets the lead for good. Caleb Heintz’s first of six PATs made it 7-0, and Oak Harbor never looked back.
The key to the win was the Rockets’ ability to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball at will.
“The offensive line took over the game in the second half. We just kept running the ball because we were playing physical up front,” said Oak Harbor coach Mike May. “Aiden Hall, Dylan Schiets and Egan Bolander all played well filling in for our injured starters. Parker Smith, Gabe Dowling, and Will Dowling led us up front and had outstanding games.”
After forcing a Huron punt, the Rockets drove 74 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a 3-yard run by Schulte with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter. The key plays on the drive were two catches made by Tyler May, one that covered 35 yards and another that went 24 yards to help set up the score.
The teams traded touchdowns with Huron scoring on a 31-yard pass from Joey Brown to Jimmy Harkelroad, and Oak Harbor clicking on a 53-yard pass from Alexander to May (four catches, 114 yards) to give the Rockets a 21-7 lead with 19 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
A key play came late in the second quarter when Oak Harbor, set to punt from its own 42, had a high snap on the punt nearly go over the head of Alexander, who had to avoid getting tackled by defenders before getting off a 37-yard punt.
“I think one of the biggest plays that Jac made during the game was the punt that he got off after the bad snap,” said May. “That would have been a huge momentum change for Huron if they would have stopped us there and would have given them great field position.”
On the ensuing drive, Huron drove 73 yards in 14 plays and nearly scored a touchdown. Brown connected with Jacob Lamb on a 14-yard pass, but Alexander made a key tackle in the open field at the 6-yard line to stop Lamb from scoring. The Tigers would add three points on a 23-yard field goal by Luke Wood, but the Rockets had dodged a bullet.
On the first drive of the second half, Oak Harbor drove 79 yards in seven plays and scored on a 1-yard run by Schulte, effectively putting the game away at 28-10.
“The opening drive of the second half helped us set the tone,” said May. “It is always important to score on that first possession and to get a stop on the opponent’s first possession to get momentum to start the third quarter.”
The Rocket defense held the Tigers in check all night, avoiding the big plays and giving up no points in the second half.
“We were concerned about the big-play potential of Huron’s offense going into the game,” say May. “They made a few big plays in the first half, but overall, our defense played well. We made a few adjustments and were able to shut them out in the second half.”