No. 2 – Oak Hill vs. Newton County Academy

Sports Reporter

Daily Times Leader continues its Top 5 Countdown of the Oak Hill Raiders' 2014 football season. The Raiders made their third consecutive postseason berth, finishing the year with a 5-6 overall record. Oak Hill is under the direction of first-year Head Coach Chris Craven, who has been an eight-year assistant coach for the program. Oak Hill opens the season against defending MAIS Class-A champion Newton County Academy on Friday, Aug. 21 at Oak Hill Academy in West Point.

No. 2: Today's game in the countdown reminiscences on Oak Hill's 29-27 win over the Newton County Academy Generals on Sept. 19 in West Point.

THE FACTS: In spite of four turnovers, including three during the second half, Oak Hill avoided a disastrous Homecoming game as Newton County Academy missed the go-ahead field goal with eight seconds left, winning 29-27 on Friday, Sept. 19 at Oak Hill Academy in West Point.
After recovering Oak Hill's fourth fumble with three minutes remaining in the game, the Generals marched from their 27-yard line to the Raiders' 14-yard line. Two plays later, Newton attempted its first field goal of the season, a 24-yarder, which was long enough but grazed the upright with eight seconds left.
Oak Hill's decisive play was a two-point conversion that proved the winning play. After a false start foiled the initial extra-point attempt, rising junior Ken Dill executed a designed bootleg, fake field goal, finding a wide-open Blake Thomas. The two-point conversion followed Thomas' 28-yard touchdown reception from Riley Pierce at 9:23 mark of the third quarter. The Raiders led 29-21.

THE STATS: Rising senior Drew Riley had a pair of first-half touchdowns, helping the Raiders lead 21-13 at halftime. Rising freshman Grayson Easterling successfully connected on all three extra-point attempts.
Newton scored 15 points on Oak Hill's four fumbles. Garrett Hollingsworth returned the Raiders' first turnover for a 32-yard touchdown. Newton recovered the opening kick-off of the second half, leading to Ty Alderman's 3-yard touchdown run.

WHAT THEY SAID: Former Oak Hill Head Football Coach Tony Stanford on the game: “We had just too many turnovers. We can’t make those kinds of mistakes and expect to win ball games. We escaped this one, but we can’t continue to make those errors. Turnovers made us lose momentum.”

Rising junior Ken Dill on the fake extra-point: “I wanted us to fake the field goal. I looked at coach from the holder position, and he called for the fake. When the play happened I don’t think the defense was looking for the pass that’s how I found Blake.”

Newton County Academy Head Coach Robert Roberts: “With no more timeouts, I just thought we needed to attempt a kick. It was our first attempt of the season, and I hate it for our guys to end the game like that. We played with a lot of heart.”

WHY THIS GAME: West Point and Noxubee County on the southside of Eshman Avenue. Oak Hill and Newton County Academy on the northside. Two eventual state champions, in West Point, on the same Friday night. And they both walked away with losses. Arguably the biggest night of high school football during the 2014 football season in West Point, the Raiders and Green Wave were successful in winning their non-district games in spite of overwhelming odds.
Though I am the local guy and was proud Oak Hill persevered for the win, Newton County's missed field-goal attempt rushed memories back to my mind as I stood on the sideline. In my senior year, I missed a field goal that decided a game for my high school team. I never thought I would feel those emotions again on a football field, but my heart went out to the Generals' kicker, who was so close to giving his team big victory over a larger school. It is a very difficult situation a young athlete has to deal with, but I am sure the kicker is stronger from the moment.

THE NEXT MEETING: Oak Hill and Newton County Academy square off in the opening week of the regular season on Friday, Aug. 21 at Oak Hill Academy in West Point. Oak Hill has won the past three meetings by a 7-point or less margin. Newton won the 2011 meeting 18-7.