Momentum swings often determine the outcome of a hard-fought game.
In Oak Harbor's game last Friday against Perkins, a crucial play turned the game in the Pirates' favor before they took control in their 39-14 victory over the Rockets. With a 14-7 lead and 35 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Perkins faced a fourth-and-6 at the Oak Harbor 25-yard-line. Quarterback Brandon Smith dropped back and looked downfield but could not find a receiver. After surveying the field, he threw the ball into the end zone for wide receiver Dale Irby, who was covered by Rockets safety Jamie Balboa. The pass, which appeared to be uncatchable, fell incomplete, but a late flag was thrown, indicating a pass interference call on the Rockets. The penalty gave the Pirates a first down at the Oak Harbor 12 and, on the very next play, Smith hit running back Mitch Benkey in the flat for a touchdown that made it 20-7.
After getting the ball to start the third quarter, the Rockets advanced to midfield before fumbling it away to Perkins.
The Pirates responded, advancing to the Oak Harbor 21, scoring on fourth-and-7 when Smith ran it in for a touchdown to push the lead to 26-7. On the play, he dropped back to pass, could not find anyone open before running it up the middle and cutting to the left and scoring.
From that point forward, the Rockets were never able to seriously threaten. Ultimately, it was Perkins' rushing attack that dictated the pace of the game. The Pirates rushed 45 times for 263 yards and were able to consistently move the ball downfield.
Benkey rushed for 129 yards on only nine carries and a touchdown. Tony Didion helped to pace the attack with 16 carries and 71 yards and a score. Smith, meanwhile, finished the game with 10 completions on 17 attempts for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
For Oak Harbor head coach Mike May, it was tough dealing with the loss, but he was able to reflect on the season his team had and was complimentary of his kids, specifically his 15 seniors, a group led by Konieczny, A.J. Cecil, Austin Wiegand, Nate Segaard, Mitch Hayslett and others.
“We talked to our seniors and we're real proud of the season we had,” said May. “To go into Week 10 and be playing for chance to win a (league) championship and go to the playoffs, that's something to be proud of. We're proud of our whole group, they battled all year. They're a group of great character. They gave us everything they had and I'm very proud of them.”
A back-and-forth first quarter saw Perkins go ahead 14-0 on a 17-yard touchdown run by Tony Didion and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Smith to Mitch Benkey before Oak Harbor responded. After driving the field and converting on a key fourth-and-3, the Rockets scored on a third-and-10 when Cecil, coming off a reverse, found Wiegand, the quarterback, in the end zone for a touchdown. Jourdan Maguire's extra point made it 14-7.
Oak Harbor running back Mark Konieczny finished with 18 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown. He finished with 1881 rushing yards for the season, a school record.