This one is going to take some ‘splainin’.
First, the most important item: The Oak Harbor High School football team scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with 21 seconds remaining to nip Arlington 22-21 Friday, Oct. 21, at Wildcat Memorial Stadium.
Now, a Wildcat win in the regular season finale at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at Marysville-Pilchuck cements Oak Harbor in third place in the Wesco North standings and earns the Wildcats the league’s sixth seed into the playoffs. An Oak Harbor loss will most likely force the Wildcats to play a play-in game the following Tuesday against the fourth-place team from the Wesco South to determine which school earns the seventh and final Wesco berth into the postseason. Other scenarios are possible if…well, let’s not get into that now.
Princeton Lollar, deservingly so, has hogged the headlines for Oak Harbor this season. In the win over Arlington, he played a key role and set another school record in the process. The senior fullback carried the ball 31 times for 162 yards for two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions. He now has 1,581 yards for the season, breaking Chris Isaacson’s single-season record of 1,559 set in 1982.
Earlier this season, Lollar surpassed Isaacson’s career rushing record and Josiah Miller’s career touchdown mark of 43 set in 2009-11. Lollar has scored 23 times this season, four shy of Miller’s single-season record, for a career total of 51.
Lollar was far from the only “hero” in the Arlington win.
With Oak Harbor down 21-14 with less than a minute left, D’Andre Bellamy barreled through the Arlington punt team to block the kick, which was recovered by Brycin McIntyre at the Eagle 17-yard line with 25 seconds remaining.
Lollar bolted to the end zone on the next play and then ran behind Bellamy and Sam Zook to bulldoze into the end zone for the game-winning two-point conversion.
The Eagles had one last chance, starting at their own 40 with 18 seconds left. After a completed pass, Oak Harbor’s Mac Carr smacked the ball lose and Andrew Miller recovered to seal the Wildcat win.
Midway through the quarter, Carr also had a big hit that jarred the ball lose, which Bellamy recovered, to give the Wildcats the ball at the Arlington 19, but Oak Harbor turned the tall over on downs with 3:42 left. A 39-yard pass gave Arlington the ball at midfield. The Eagles attempted to run out the clock, but Oak Harbor used its timeouts and eventually got the ball back on the blocked punt.
The game was a contrast in styles: Oak Harbor’s ground assault against Arlington’s air attack.
The Eagles did not use a true running play until two minutes were left in the third quarter. In all, they had nine rushes. Two of the runs were quarterback scrambles and five came when the Eagles were trying to milk the clock at the end of the game. The result was a minus 7 yards rushing for the contest.
Arlington’s sophomore quarterback Anthony Whitis completed 18 of 32 passes for 239 yards. Gabriel Green threw one pass good for 39 yards.
On the other hand, Oak Harbor QB Caleb Fitzgerald threw only six passes, completing two for two yards. One, a Hail Mary on the last play of the half, was intercepted.
Oak Harbor ran for 306 yards on 66 carries. TJ Hollins-Passmore backed Lollar with 78 yards on 15 runs, and Taeson Hardin, before leaving early in the second half win an injury, finished with 51 on 10 totes.
Mistakes (or big plays, depending on which sideline you patrolled) were an important part of the game.
Arlington lost four fumbles, two which set up Oak Harbor scores. Then there was the block punt…
Oak Harbor punted only once but turned the ball over on downs five times. In three of those drives, and the possession which ended with the punt, a penalty compromised the final series of of downs.
The Wildcats were successful on only one of six fourth-down plays, and that was because of an Eagle off-side penalty.
Oak Harbor scored first. After recovering an Eagle fumble, the Wildcats drove 80 yards, scoring on a Hollins-Passmore 6-yard run with 2:50 left in the first quarter. Hollins-Passmore had a 38-yard run during the drive, Oak Harbor’s longest play of the night.
So much happened in the game, it was easy to forget the odd play on the point-after conversion, which turned out to be critical, considering the final score.
Oak Harbor lined up in a Wildcat formation with Lollar at quarterback. A botched hand-off resulted in a fumble. The ball was batted around, disappeared in a mass of bodies and then Lollar emerged from the scrum and dove into the end zone for two points.
Arlington scored on the first play of the second quarter to make it 8-7.
Oak Harbor recovered another fumble, this one at the Arlington 26. Lollar ran the final yard for the score and the PAT pass was incomplete, making it 14-7.
The Eagles quickly tied the game. A 48-yard return on the kickoff gave Arlington the ball at the Oak Harbor 25. One pass play, followed by the PAT kick, and the game was tied.
Arlington stopped Oak Harbor’s first possession of the second half on downs at midfield and then drove in for its final points.
Oak Harbor (3-2, 6-2) now meets Marysville-Pilchuck (2-3, 2-6) in a battle for third place. The game, originally scheduled for Friday, was moved to Thursday to give the losing team an extra day to prepare for the following Tuesday’s play-in game.