WEST POINT — Costly turnovers and a loss of control at the line of scrimmage proved to be fatal for Oak Hill Academy on Friday against Winona Christian School.
The Raiders (1-2) fumbled away two kickoffs in key moments, leading the Stars (2-1) to a 40-28 win in West Point.
Oak Hill coach Bill Rosenthal was disappointed in how close his team came to beating an opponent he believed the Raiders had control over. He cited ball control as the main issue that plagued his team.
“This one hurts,” Rosenthal said. “I think we had them on the ropes, and then a turnover lets them back in it.”
Winona’s Jake Ware took control of the game after the Raiders’ second fumbled kickoff, putting his team in front for good with a 3-yard rush and a two-point conversion to notch a 34-28 lead less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
Desperate, Oak Hill tried to put something together in hopes of keeping up with the red-hot Stars. The team used star running back Craven to lead them down the field, but a pass attempt on fourth down failed, and Winona took over on downs with 3:31 remaining in the game. The Stars sealed the deal with one last score on an 18-yard rush by quarterback Brannon Hill, pushing the lead to 40-28 with only 48 seconds to go.
Hill connected with Collin Parkinson for two long touchdowns for the Stars, while Ware totaled three touchdowns on the ground.
Craven was the shining star for the Raiders, rushing for 232 yards on 35 attempts with four touchdowns in his team’s loss.
“He’s been a three-year starter,” Rosenthal said. “You know, his dad’s a coach, and he’s a hard-nosed kid.”
Quarterback Noah Brand went 4 for 10 passing with 58 yards and added 38 yards on the ground. Kye Tate led all Oak Hill receivers with 33 yards on two catches.
Defensively, Camden Payne had two big-time sacks and one tackle, while Dalton Turnipseed recorded three tackles and one tackle for loss.
Sophomore Mason Pruden pulled in a fumble recovery on the second-half kickoff, setting up the Raiders at the Winona Christian 3-yard line. Craven scored his third touchdown of the night to put Oak Hill in front 21-20, and he scored again to give the Raiders an eight-point lead with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
Winona Christian responded less than two minutes later on a 46-yard rush by Ware — one that might have been prevented had two Oak Hill defenders not collided on the play. The teams headed into the final quarter of close action with the Raiders clinging to a 28-26 advantage.
Oak Hill had chances to put the game away in the first half but let the Stars back into the matchup late in the second quarter.
The Stars finally marched down the field with 2:18 remaining in the half to record their first touchdown of the night: a 2-yard rush by Ware to cut Oak Hill’s lead to 14-6. A defensive stop quickly gave the ball back to Winona Christian, and Hill sent a beautiful spiral down the sideline and into the hands of Parkinson, who went on to record the 61-yard score with 1:19 remaining.
The game-tying two-point conversion failed, but the two-minute nightmare continued to get worse: Oak Hill fumbled the ball away on the following kickoff. Hill and Parkinson connected again on fourth down for a 28-yard touchdown and Ware ran in the two-point conversion to give Winona a 20-14 lead as time expired.
Craven scored both Oak Hill touchdowns in the first half, punching in the Raiders’ first touchdown less than 4 minutes into the game on a 7-yard run. Jack Easterling’s extra point gave the home team an early 7-0 advantage, and the defense kept the Stars off the board for the entire first quarter. Craven added another rushing touchdown of 4 yards with 11:06 left in the first half.
Oak Hill will face off against Canton Academy in West Point next Friday before beginning district play.
Winona Christian 40, Oak Hill Academy 28
Oak Hill Academy (1-2) 7 7 14 0 — 28
Winona Christian (2-1) 0 20 6 14 — 40
OH — John Ross Craven 7 run (Jack Easterling kick), clock 7:59
OH — Craven 4 run (Easterling kick), clock 11:06
WC — Jake Ware 2 run (kick failed), clock 2:18
WC — Collin Parkinson 61 pass from Brannon Hill (pass failed), clock 1:19
WC — Parkinson 28 pass from Hill (Ware run), clock 0:01
OH — Craven 1 run (Easterling kick), clock 11:27
OH — Craven 1 run (Easterling kick), clock 5:30
WC — Ware 46 run (run failed), clock 4:11
WC — Ware 3 run (run), clock 11:13
WC — Hill 18 run (kick failed), clock 0:48
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