The Raiders used that formula to dominate the first three quarters and close the regular season with a 33-13 win over Traip Academy.

“We’re probably exactly where we though we’d be (at the end of the regular season),” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “We’ve made some adjustments for some of our strengths and some of our weaknesses and we’re just happy to be in the playoffs.”

As they’ve demonstrated while winning the past three Class D state titles, the Raiders are in their element during the playoffs, too. They will have to beat Traip again in the Class D South quarterfinals next Saturday, and the Rangers hope some adjustments, and a little help from Mother Nature, can get Oak Hill out of its comfort zone.

“You don’t do anything different in this type of game. You’re going to see them next week. Why do anything different?” said Traip coach Ron Ross, who had a number of freshmen filling in key roles this week. “I mean, Stacen’s not going to run the double-wing if it’s not raining like a son-of-a-gun, hopefully. They didn’t show us any new wrinkles that they haven’t done all year. Next week, if we can come out here and play them without the mistakes, without the turnovers, Stacen will have to open up and show us some new wrinkles.”

Six different ball-carriers combined to rush for 260 yards, and four of those scored for the Raiders (5-2). Cruz Poirier (11 carries, 57 yards) had two touchdowns, while Brian Thorpe (eight carries, 26 yards), Austin Noble (team-high 59 yards on 11 carries) and QB Matt Strout (nine carries, 25 yards) each crossed the goal-line once.

Darryn Bailey led Oak Hill defensively with two interceptions, while Adam Mooney and DJ Pushard each recovered a fumble.

Evan Porter scored both touchdowns for the Rangers (2-5) while gaining 110 yards on 26 carries.

After forcing the Rangers three-and-out to open the game, the Raiders came out for their first offensive series in the double wing and marched 60 yards in 10 plays to open the scoring. Strout, Noble and Steven Gilbert shared the load on a drive where the Raiders only had to convert one third down. Noble finished it off from two yards out for the 6-0 lead.

Oak Hill doubled the margin early in the second quarter when runs of 15 yards by Poirier and 21 yards by Gilbert set up Thorpe’s two-yard TD plunge.

Bailey’s first interception near midfield put Oak Hill in prime position to increase the lead. This time, the Raiders grinded out an 11-play drive, including a six-yard run by Matt Eaton (six carries, 42 yards) on 4th-and-1, to take a 19-0 lead on Poirier’s four-yard TD run.

Oak Hill held Traip without a first down until less than three minutes remained in the first half.

“We knew that Porter and their quarterback (Angelo Succi) are both good athletes, so we just wanted to contain them,” Mooney said.

The Rangers celebrated finally moving the chains with their first score, Porter’s 24-yard touchdown run, to make it 19-7 at halftime.

Steadier rain arrived for the second half and turnovers continued to plague the Rangers.

Bailey’s leaping interception and return to Traip’s 20 gave Oak Hill’s offense another short field early in the third quarter. Poirier capitalized with his second touchdown, this from eight yards, for a 26-7 lead.

“You can’t beat a game in the mud,” said Mooney, a senior two-way lineman. “We like that.”

“It’s old-fashioned backyard football,” Thorpe added.

Another Traip turnover, this a fumble forced by Peter Flaherty and recovered by Pushard, preceded one more longer drive and score. Strout’s QB sneak from a yard out with 43 seconds left in the third capped a 13-play 57-yard drive that ate nearly seven minutes off the clock.

That was the last time the Raiders would see the ball. The Rangers erased the final 12:43 of the game with two drives.

Porter finished off the first with a nifty 11-yard TD run that saw him run to the right, shake off an Oak Hill tackler trying to drag him down by the jersey, then reverse field to the left and find the end zone with 5:30 left.

The Rangers recovered the ensuing onside kick but ran out of time before drawing any closer on the scoreboard.

“We’re missing a few people offensively, and hopefully we’ll get them back next week. But our thing (Saturday) was ball control,” Ross said. “We felt that if we could drive the ball down, like we used to do in the old days, with eight- or nine-minute drives and no penalties, that we could play a little bit better in the second half.”

The Raiders head into the playoffs an uncustomary No. 3 seed as they try to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive state championship. But they are pleased with how they performed during the regular season.

“I feel we’ve played well,” Thorpe said. “Everything fits like a puzzle. If someone doesn’t do their job, then the whole puzzle just doesn’t fit.”


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