WALES — A lot of the Oak Hill players have seen plenty of playoff action over the past few years, including back-to-back-to-back state championships in class D football, but Saturday they knew none of that mattered as they began their quest for another.

With sloppy field conditions, Oak Hill’s defense took care of business, not allowing Traip a first down the entire game and holding the Rangers to just 35 total yards, all on the ground, en route to a 16-8 victory in Class D quarterfinal action.

The Raiders defeated Traip 33-13 the week before in the regular-season finale.

“Our defense played well today,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “It was really hard to cut, and our players were expecting them to run. We set out to control the line of scrimmage.”

Controlled they did. Seniors Peter Flaherty and Adam Mooney led the way up front, stuffing the Rangers’ run game to just 1.25 yards per carry, and holding Evan Porter to just 41 yards, after he ran for 110 yards the week before.

Oak Hill wasted no time getting on the board after receiving the opening kick. A mix of attackers on the ground and the game’s only pass completion helped the Raiders collect four first downs and roll into Traip territory. Led by Steve Gilbert’s 51 yards on the ground, Oak Hill scored on a 2-yard plunge by quarterback Matt Strout less than five minutes into the game.


Following a quick three-and-out by Traip, the Raiders’ offense was back on the field, driving the ball. After gaining another trio of first downs deep into Traip territory, the drive stalled and Oak Hill settled for a 29-yard field goal by Gilbert for a 10-0 advantage. Another defensive hold, highlighted by a Strout sack forced Traip to punt again.

The following series, on third-down-and-5, Strout was intercepted by Joe Cavanagh, giving Traip the ball on Oak Hill’s 14-yard line. Two plays later, Porter scampered untouched into the end zone. He followed with the two-point conversion run, cutting Oak Hill’s lead to 10-8.

“Our plan was to ground to pound. Last week, they were cutting us off on the outside, so we thought we would eat up the middle and take what they were giving us,” Traip coach Ron Ross said.

The Rangers trailed only 10-8 at the half. Since they were receiving the ball to start the second half, they hoped to carry that momentum.

“We wanted to come up here today and upset them. If it weren’t for a turnover trying to gain extra yards or a missed block, that scoreboard would be different,” Ross said.

The Oak Hill defense wouldn’t have it, pushing the Rangers back and forcing a punt to open the half.


The ensuing punt, though, did not go well for Oak Hill. Gilbert, calling for a fair catch, could not handle the ball cleanly and fumbled it away. It was recovered by freshman Kevin McKenney, setting up Traip on the Oak Hill 25-yard line.

Once again, the Raiders’ defense rose to the challenge, making a gang tackle on Porter on a fourth-and-4 to force a turnover on downs.

On the very next play, Gilbert fumbled once again, turning the ball over deep in Oak Hill’s own territory.

“With field conditions like this, there is adversity you have to overcome,” Doucette said. “After those fumbles, I told the kids to find a way, play to their fullest.”

The Raiders responded with a quick turnover, a leaping interception by senior Austin Noble.

“That second half was as well as we’ve played all year,” Doucette said.


“We have been through adversity throughout the year, today was no different. My teammates know what we need to do and they helped pick me up today,” said Gilbert. “We just take one play at a time.”

Strout, Gilbert and Reid Cote took to the ground, pounding the ball and eating the rest of the third-quarter clock. Oak Hill drove 69 yards, capped off by a quarterback sneak by Strout for the score. The extra point was blocked, keeping Traip within a score, 16-8.

Following the kickoff, Porter was stripped of the ball while attempting to gain extra yardage. Gilbert recovered the ball in the mud.

“I’ll remember this field today; it was a lot of fun,” Gilbert, a senior, said. “This will be the last time I play on it.”

The Raiders continued to kill the clock, and the defense once again stopped the Rangers’ offense before Traip had one more opportunity.

With less than 20 seconds remaining, Traip (2-6) attempted a pair of passes from their own 25-yard line that drew one pass interference and no completions as the clock expired on the game and their season.

“Our kids played really tough today. We overcame some injuries and played these guys tough,” Ross added.

Oak Hill (6-2) travels to Lisbon next Saturday for a Class D semifinal matchup with the Greyhounds (6-1).

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