WINTHROP — Oak Hill/St. Dom’s spoiled Winthrop/Monmouth/Kents Hill/Hall-Dale’s party.

The young Raiders, who only had one senior playing Saturday, came from behind to defeat the Ramblers 20-12 in Winthrop’s homecoming game and its first football game on the renovated Charlie’s Field at Maxwell Complex.

Freshman Kai Taylor threw a pair of touchdown passes to lead Oak Hill back from a 12-0 deficit.

“We are a little bit young and it sometimes takes us a little bit of time to get us going,” Oak Hill coach Chad Stowell said. “Today, we had a good halftime; we made a lot of adjustments at the half. We came out with some energy and we made a couple of plays. We started to play a little bit more confidently in the second half.”

Sophomore PJ Smith said the win was the spark the Raiders needed after losing their first three games of the season.

“I think right there, that’s a big momentum booster and big attitude booster for everybody on the team,” Smith said. “I think a lot of people will realize we can do things that they think we couldn’t do.”


The Ramblers’ offense started strong. Its first drive on the new artificial surface went 76 yards on 17 plays. Quarterback Braden Branagan scored on a 4-yard designed run for a 6-0 lead.

The Ramblers’ second drive went nine plays and carried into the second quarter. Running backs Brody Adams and Cody Cobb combined for 36 yards rushing on five carries, and Branagan capped the drive with a 1-yard QB sneak early in the second quarter that gave Winthrop a 12-0 advantage.

The Ramblers weren’t able to build off their first two possessions.

“It’s frustrating we didn’t punch in the PATs, but we were undermanned when we came in,” Winthrop coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “We got off to that great start, and we thought we would get rolling here. They had a big play to get back into it. Their momentum swings were more effective than ours.”

Oak Hill’s defense forced Winthrop to punt on its third drive, then the Raiders’ offense found success through the air.

Taylor (136 yards passing) threw on back-to-back plays to Issac Graham for a combined 17 yards to pick up a first down.


“We made some blocking adjustments to try to give Kai some more time,” Stowell said. “He’s a talented kid if we give him a chance to make some plays. He made some big ones today. I am really proud of what he did today.”

Later in the drive, Taylor found Kaiden Delano for a 25-yard pass to the Ramblers’ 5-yard line. On the next play, Taylor hit Adam Hinkley with a 5-yard touchdown pass.

“The design play was to have the tight end to leak out for a touchdown,” Taylor said. “That ended up collapsing, with the outside (linebacker), took him. Adam changed his route perfectly, and I adjusted and threw him the ball.”

The Ramblers contested the touchdown, saying Hinkley didn’t complete the catch before dropping the ball in the end zone. But the touchdown stood, and the Winthrop lead was down to 12-7.

“I didn’t think the guy caught it, but I couldn’t tell — it looked like it hit the ground,” St. Hilare said. “The play that set that up, the running back sliding out, and we were late getting there; they hit that for a big (pass).”

Both teams punted on their first possessions of the second half. After Winthrop punted a second time, Oak Hill’s next possession appeared to be headed for a similar fate. Instead, on third-and-15 on their own 32, Taylor found sophomore PJ Smith for a 68-yard touchdown pass to give the Raiders a 14-12 lead midway through the third quarter.


“I just needed to make something happen,” Smith said. “We really needed it right then and I did what I had to do.”

The teams struggled to pick up first downs in the fourth quarter. Late in the game, deep in their own end of the field, the Ramblers went for it on fourth down and turned the ball over on downs.

Delano added to Oak Hill’s lead on the ensuing drive with an 8-yard touchdown run that made it 20-12 lead.

Trent Collin took over at QB for the Ramblers’ final drive and hit Carter Collin for 23 yards on first-and-10, bringing the ball to the Winthrop 43. But those were the only yards the Ramblers gained before turning the ball over with 10 seconds left.

“We aren’t a third-and-12, third-and-13 team,” St. Hilaire said. “That’s just not our game. We are third-and-4, third-and-5. It was the early downs that hurt us; and getting behind, we aren’t a team that’s going to line up and throw it. We aren’t there.”

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