LISBON — Stacen Doucette knew the look all too well.
The younger, smaller Lisbon Greyhounds on the sideline opposite the first-year Oak Hill coach had a snarl in their teeth, and a gleam in their eyes.
After a solid second half with a lot of yards and little to show for it on the scoreboard, Lisbon also had one last chance with precious few ticks remaining on the clock.
Oak Hill's defense — with the same bend-but-don't-break attitude Doucette had been party to at Lisbon — bent again. But again, the Raiders didn't break.
Three Oak Hill defenders stopped Lisbon receiver Quincy Thompson 10 yards shy of the goal line after he hauled in a desperation heave from Kyle Bourget in the waning seconds of regulation to preserve for the visiting Raiders a 21-14 victory over the Greyhounds in a key Western Class C football showdown Saturday.
"They're always going to make adjustments and they're always going to play hard," Doucette said. "Both sides of the ball, they made some adjustments. We played a lot of defense in the second half, and our focus was to bend, not break."
Doucette is his first year at Oak Hill after being an assistant at Lisbon for several years. That familiarity made for an interesting week of preparation.
"It's nice on the preparation side of it. You know a lot of what they're doing and they do, too," Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan said. "It's kind of a fun practice week. It gave us a chance to work our defense both ways."
Preparation did little to help Lisbon on the first series of the day, though. Four plays after starting on their own 45, the Raiders' Kyle Flaherty broke through the line for a 37-yard touchdown run. Only 1:51 into the game, Oak Hill had the lead.
"They're a big, strong team, and we knew if they ran up the middle we would have a hard time stopping them," Mynahan said. "And I think Stacen knew that too, and that was a big part of their game plan."
"We don't have a true feature back, we have a running back by committee," Doucette said. "Flaherty happened to have the yards and the carries today. This was his type of game. He's a slasher."
Flaherty finished with 88 yards on 13 carries and the touchdown. Quarterback Parker Asselin added 48 yards on 16 carries and another score.
Lisbon had a hard time moving the ball against the bigger Oak Hill line in the first quarter. The Greyhounds ran only eight plays and earned three first downs in the first 12 minutes, and the only potential for a score was snuffed out by a fumble inside the Oak Hill 15-yard line.
But in the second, they started to find some traction, sustaining a nearly-seven-minute drive that included converting a pair of fourth downs.
But with nothing to show for it, Oak Hill made Lisbon pay, driving 87 yards on nine plays. The key play was a 43-yard completion from Asselin to Cody Collingwood down to the Lisbon 2-yard line.
Faced with a 14-0 deficit at halftime, the Greyhounds regrouped.
"In the second half, we found some kids that wanted to play down and dirty," Mynahan said. "They stopped that inside give (and) stopped their quarterback."
While the Lisbon defense went to work on the Oak Hill offense (the Raiders managed only one first down in the second half), the offense started to find its rhythm — until another fumble inside the Oak Hill 15.
"Against a good team like them, one fumble is bad, but two fumbles inside the red zone, that's something that really hurts a team," Mynahan said. "More on the mental side of things, it can get you down."
After forcing another Oak Hill punt and drawing a penalty, Lisbon got in the board and appeared to gather the momentum on a Thompson 8-yard run.
But Oak Hill got the spark it needed from Joel Wells on the ensuing kick return. Wells gathered the ball at the 21 and ran untouched for a score.
"There was a huge hole. I could see it from way back when I caught the ball," Wells said. "I don't think I even got touched. It really got us pumped up. Good returns always do."
Lisbon marched right back down for another score, this coming in the fourth quarter. Bourget hooked up with Brandon Hovey over the middle for an 11-yard strike to cut the Oak Hill lead to 21-14.
The teams traded fruitless drives. With less than five second remaining, Lisbon got the ball back with a chance for one play.
Bourget dropped back to pass from the Oak Hill 47 and found Thompson, who hauled in the throw and cut to the Raiders' 10 before running into a wall of white jerseys.
"Quincy's just a really good receiver, and he set himself up to catch that ball," Mynahan said. "He knew how to delay just right and read the throw. He's one of the better receivers I've ever had."
Thompson tried to lateral the ball to a teammate, but it hit the turf and Oak Hill recovered the fumble to preserve the victory.
Kyle Sheehan led Lisbon with 121 yards rushing on 16 carries. Thompson added 81 on 21 tries.