HAMILTON — Keyshawn Stephens had a trifecta of touchdowns to help lead the Hamilton Big Blue to a 31-21 victory over the Oak Hills Highlanders on Homecoming night. The Big Blue led the entire game, but needed to come up big in several key moments to deny Oak Hills a chance of a comeback.
Hamilton started the evening off with Stephens scoring from eleven yards out to take a 7-0 lead, before an Oak Hills fumble set up another Stephens touchdown run from one yard away. After the first quarter, the home side held a 14-0 advantage.
However, Oak Hills finally gained some traction and sustained a drive that lasted nearly the entire second quarter. The drive even saw a 4th and 6 turn into a converted 4th and 1 after a hard count drew Hamilton into encroachment. At the end of it all, Aaron Frick managed to punch it in from two yards out to cut the deficit in half at 14-7.
Hamilton made the most of the less than a minute Oak Hills had offered them and moved quickly down the field to set up a Erick Rios field goal as time expired to give the Big Blue the 17-7 halftime lead. Rios actually made his 47-yarder twice, once before the play could be stopped on a Highlander time out and then again on the actual play.
Although Oak Hills attempted a pooch kick that they nearly recovered to start the second half, Hamilton got possession of the ball and moved quickly down the field. The Big Blue would score to take a 24-7 lead after Kevon Burnett caught a pass from Quincy Simms Marshall, made a move, and dashed 24 yards to the endzone.
But the Highlanders refused to go away. The continuous attempts at deception on hand offs and pitches finally paid off, as Brendan Maxwell broke free on the confusion for a 64-yard touchdown run to pull the score back to two possessions at 24-14 to finish the third quarter.
After a Hamilton punt, Oak Hills put together another long drive, this time capped off by Frick rushing nine yards to the endzone to bring the Highlanders within a field goal.
Hamilton then put together one of their best drives on the night to keep control of the clock and the game. With short time left, Marshall found Daryan Bowling on a 35-yard jump ball that set up the Big Blue at the 5-yard line. One play later and Stephens punched it in for the five yard score to make it 31-21.
After the PAT, things got a bit interesting, as an unsportsmanlike conduct on Hamilton saw the player ejected and the penalized kickoff gave Oak Hills better field position. A later interception to seal the game for Hamilton was then called off due to defensive pass interference, but two Oak Hills players were penalized with unsportsmanlike conduct after the play and both were ejected. Because of this, Oak Hills had a 1st down and 40, with under a minute to go, but Khaliyal Sowell would intercept the ensuing pass to officially claim the victory for Hamilton.
The win was important for Hamilton, as it gave them their first Greater Miami Conference win on the season. The Big Blue are now 3-2 overall, 1-2 in the GMC. Oak Hills falls to 0-5, 0-3 GMC.
Hamilton will return to action this coming Friday against the Mason Comets. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm at Dwire Field in Mason.
Be sure to follow Hamilton all season long on Chatterbox Sports and watch the Big Blue Sports Show each week at chatterboxsports.com.