Winthrop/Monmouth’s Cameron Gaghan, right, stiff-arms Gavin Rawstron of Oak Hill (9) as he tries to turn the corner during their game in Wales on Saturday.
WALES — When the final Heal points are tallied one week from now, Oak Hill could find itself in the playoffs, and the Raiders will have Caleb Treadwell to thank for helping to extend their season.
By then, Treadwell may be over his own shock at how he did it.
Treadwell intercepted a pass at the goal line with seven seconds left to preserve a crucial 28-26 victory over Winthrop/Monmouth on Saturday.
“I undercut (the receiver’s route) and when I caught it, I was like ‘Oh my God, I caught that,'” said Treadwell, a junior defensive back. “It was just read and react.”
The win not only improved the Raiders to 3-4, it fetched some much-needed Heal points as they battle for a playoff spot with one week to go and Lisbon on the horizon.
“Coach (Stacen Doucette) was saying all week, ‘Playoffs start now. If we don’t win this we’re done,'” senior running back/linebacker Cruz Poirier said.
Freshman quarterback Gavin Rawstron was 8-for-20 passing with 187 yards, an interception and two touchdowns. Poirier rushed for 76 of his 118 yards and both of his touchdowns in the second half, including what turned out to be the game-winner with 5:25 remaining.
A heads-up play by Cameron Gaghan on a punt put the Ramblers (3-4) in position to steal the victory. Gaghan scooped up the rolling punt and caught the Raiders, who wanted to let the ball roll and eat up as much clock as possible, a little flat-footed as he burst up the left sideline nearly 50 yards to the Oak Hill 18 with 43.7 seconds to go.
Gaghan was on the receiving end of a third-down pass from Keegan Choate (11-for-27, 242 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) that got the Ramblers 1st-and-goal at the 5 with 25.2 seconds left.
After two incompletions, Choate tried to connect with Jevin Smith in the left flat, but Treadwell jumped the out route and picked it off, returning it to his own 18.
“That play was made from running seven-on-seven all summer long and having confidence,” Doucette said.
Winthrop/Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire said he had no regrets about going for six points rather than attempt what would have been a 22-yard field goal to win it on third down.
“We wanted (Choate) to look on the wide side of the field because that’s where our two top receivers were going to be,” St. Hilaire said. “I had the tee in my hand. We were going to kick (the field goal) on fourth down.”
Winthrop/Monmouth led 13-7 at the half, courtesy Choate’s 35-yard TD pass to Greg Fay (four catches, 94 yards) and Abram Sirois’ two-yard touchdown run. But Oak Hill, which stopped the Ramblers’ run game all day (55 net yards), dialed up the pressure on the quarterback in the second half.
“Big game-planning at halftime,” said senior safety Colby Webster, who had a first-quarter interception. “Coach said ‘If they’re going to go man-under two split, sent the rush.’ We got big pressure. That was key.”
The see-saw second half started with a 35-yard touchdown pass by Rawstron to Darryn Bailey (five catches, 100 yards). A 38-yard Choate-to-Fay pass set up Choate’s one-yard sneak that put the Ramblers back in front, 19-14.
Oak Hill’s offense picked up the tempo in the fourth quarter, using a hurry-up to keep the Ramblers on the field on an unseasonably warm afternoon. The strategy seemed to get Poirier and the running game in a good rhythm. He shook off a tackle in the backfield and turned the right corner for a seven-yard touchdown run. Rawstron hooked up with Bailey on the two-point pass to make it 22-19 Raiders.
“It’s definitely a boost to team morale when you get a big run or you score a touchdown and the other team is just dead tired,” Poirier said.
“When we get first downs, it gives us confidence,” Doucette said. “We keep it simple and I thought we did a good job.”
Winthrop/Monmouth answered in one play with Choate’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Baird. The Ramblers had a 26-22 lead, but their defense didn’t get much of a break.
The Raiders took advantage, embarking on a nine-play, 59-yard game-winning drive spent entirely on the ground. Gabriel Bergeron, Reid Cote and Rawstron all chipped in, including a QB sneak on 4th-and-inches, to set up Poirier’s 21-yard touchdown burst up the middle that made it 28-26.
“We were running a toss left and I saw a hole in the middle and just sprinted for it. The line did a great job blocking,” Poirier said.
The Ramblers drove to the Raider 36 on their next possession, but Poirier knocked down a pass on 4th-and-7 to turn possession over. Winthrop-Monmouth’s defense buckled down and forced a three-and-out preceding their final possession.
Winthrop/Monmouth’s Greg Fay, left, hauls in a touchdown pass from quarterback Keegan Choate behind Oak Hill defenders Gavin Rawstron (9) and Darryn Bailey (8) during their game in Wales on Saturday.Oak Hill High School’s Darryn Bailey (8) makes a catch behind Winthrop/Monmouth defender Cameron Gaghan (6) during their game in Wales on Saturday.Winthrop/Monmouth defender Carson Camick (66) picks off a pass intended for Oak Hill’s Darryn Bailey right, who’s being face-guarded by Ryan Baird center, during their game in Wales on Saturday.Oak Hill High School quarterback Gavin Rawstron (9) staggers after a hit by Winthrop/Monmouth’s Ryan Baird (8) during their game in Wales on Saturday.Winthrop/Monmouth receiver Cameron Gaghan (6) hauls in a pass in front of Oak Hill High School defender Gavin Rawstron (9) during their game in Wales on Saturday.Winthrop/Monmouth running back Abram Siois (25) looks for running room as Oak Hill High School’s Darryn Bailey (8) bears down on him during their game in Wales on Saturday.Oak Hill High School’s Darryn Bailey (8) slips a tackle by Winthrop/Monmouth’s Cameron Gaghan during their game in Wales on Saturday.Winthrop/Monmouth’s Cameron Gaghan tries to escape the clutches of Oak Hill defender Gavin Rawstron during their game in Wales on Saturday.Oak Hill High School’s football team takes the field before a game against Winthrop/Monmouth on Saturday.