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Well-conditioned Wildcats win; Miller sets new record | Football
Maybe Stair Day should be called Victory Day.
A well-conditioned Oak Harbor High School football team, behind another record-setting performance by Josiah Miller, remained undefeated with a 53-33 come from behind win over Mount Vernon in a nonleague game at Wildcat Memorial Stadium Friday, Oct. 7.
The Oak Harbor coaching staff has made conditioning a focal point of this season, and the Wildcats’ physical freshness helped them wear down a bigger Bulldog squad and run away with the game in the fourth quarter.
Miller, who set a school record last week with five touchdowns, broke that mark again, this time with a six-TD performance in the win. He ran for scores of 67, 34, 66 and 11 yards and caught passes for 70 and 27 yards for two more touchdowns.
The senior sprinter finished with 226 yards on 16 carries, caught three passes for 113 yards and intercepted a pass.
Mount Vernon, dominating the line of scrimmage, took a 27-14 lead with 7:51 left in the first half. By halftime, Oak Harbor regained the lead, 28-27, and then in the second half the Wildcats wore down the weary Bulldogs.
Oak Harbor coach Jay Turner said at the beginning of the season his undersized club would need to be in superior condition to win over bigger opponents and instituted a more rigorous routine for his team
The conditioning includes what the team calls Stair Day when the squad runs the steps of Wildcat Memorial Stadium every Monday.
Oak Harbor had trouble running through the husky Mount Vernon front seven – eight of the Wildcats’ 21 first-half carries went for one or fewer yards – during the early stages.
Late in the game, when Oak Harbor needed to run out the clock, the conditioning kicked in and the Wildcats methodically battered through the Bulldogs.
For the game, Brent Ryan bulled for 111 yards on 25 carries.
Quarterback Ian Kolste completed 13 of 24 passes for 195 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Oak Harbor out gained MV 533 to 365.
Four fumbles, an interception and eight penalties hurt Mount Vernon.
Marchael Acode run for 159 yards on 21 carries and Bennett Gibson passed for 182 yards, hitting 12 of 23.
Disaster struck early for Oak Harbor. The Wildcats fumbled the opening kickoff and Mount Vernon recovered. It took one play for the Bulldogs to score – Acode on a 26-yard run.
The Wildcats countered quickly. After three Ryan runs, Miller went 67 yards for his first TD. Peter Franssen kicked the extra point. (He hit five of seven PATs with two blocked.)
Acode fumbled on the Bulldogs’ next play. However, it appeared Mount Vernon held when Oak Harbor faced a fourth-and-27 after a penalty and sack. Oak Harbor ran a fake punt, and Miller, the punter, not only got a first down, he scored form 34 yards and the ‘Cats led 14-7.
Mount Vernon then went on a three-touchdown run. First Gibson hit Adam West on a 65-yard TD toss; the PAT was blocked.
On the second play of the second quarter, Gibson hooked up with West again for a 21-yard score and MV led 20-14.
Oak Harbor ran a fake punt on its next possession; this one resulted in a one-yard loss and Mount Vernon took over at the Wildcat 49. With the help of a 24-yard pass from Gibson to Richard Dutton, the Bulldogs punched it in from the two and it was 27-14.
Oak Harbor faced a third-and-15 at its own 30 when Kolste hit Miller in stride on a bomb and a 70-yard score.
With 33 second left in the half, Gibson threw while being hauled to the ground and his ill advised pass was picked by Miller and returned 31 yards to the Mount Vernon 25.
On fourth-and-six, Kolste threw to Miller down the line of scrimmage and Miller twisted his way to the seven for a first down. Kolste threw to Mike Washington from there for six points with 3 seconds left in the half and Oak Harbor led 28-27.
A 32-yard run by Acode on the first possession of the second half set up Mount Vernon’s go-ahead touchdown. That made it 33-28, Bulldogs, and Mount Vernon was through as the relentless Wildcats started to put the game away.
Turner said Oak Harbor made some defensive adjustments at the break and the changes slowed the Bulldogs.
Turner said, “Sometimes the kids don’t understand what adjustments we want to make. But this is a smart group of players.”
He said another defensive key was being able to get pressure on Gibson with only a three-man rush. Gibson ripped the Wildcats by hitting nine-of-13 passes for 160 yards in the first half.
In the second half, as the Wildcat rush slipped by a flagging Mount Vernon line, Gibson connected on only three-of-nine for 22 yards. The rotation of Casey Ferguson, Dayne Herron, Fred Webster and Ryan harassed Gibson throughout the final 20 minutes.
Kolste and Miller connected on a 27-yard TD pass with 9:31 left in the third quarter and Oak Harbor gained a 34-33 lead and would never trail again.
The Wildcats recovered a Mount Vernon fumble at the Bulldog 25. A quick drive ended on a three-yard Ryan run.
On the third play after a Bulldog punt, Miller raced up the middle 66 yards for another score.
Mount Vernon turned the ball over on downs after reaching the red zone on its next possession, and it was time for the Wildcats’ conditioning to kick in.
Oak Harbor had trouble running with consistent success between the tackles against the big Bulldog front much of the game, but now the Oak Harbor line took over.
With Ryan doing most of the damage, Oak Harbor pounded the interior of the MV defense, chewed up five minutes and scored on an 11-yard Miller run with 2:37 to finish the scoring and ice the game.
Turner said, ‘We condition our butts off, and it is something our kids take pride in.”
He added, “The theme of the week was that we wanted to see where we were stood against a playoff team. Mount Vernon will probably win their league and will definitely make the playoffs. We have not been challenged much the past few weeks, and we wanted to know, ‘Can we play four quarters?’”
Oak Harbor (6-0) travels to Shoreline Stadium to face Shorecrest (4-2) next Friday at 7 p.m.