MILLEDGEVILLE — An undefeated season is special at any level. The Oak Hill Middle School Braves finished 7-0, defeating visiting Washington County 34-32 in overtime Wednesday.
Oak Hill bested all Kaolin League opposition throughout the season, including teams from Washington, Twiggs, Wilkinson and Hancock counties. The middle school braves outscored opponents by nearly 200 points.
Head coach Mark Antley was glad to repay the Warriors who beat the Braves in triple overtime last year.
“When they come over to Baldwin High School, it's always a good thing to say as an eighth-grader you had an undefeated season and won the championship. It was a big deal at the beginning of the season for them to go unbeaten,” Antley said.
Oak Hill led 14-8 after the first quarter. Running back Ja'Quez Butts paced the rushing attack scoring the go ahead touchdown.
The Braves' defense held the Warriors early in the second quarter. Halfback Keldrick Bell broke tackles and a few ankles on his way to the end zone, pushing the advantage to 20-8.
Cornerback Paris Vincent picked off a Washington pass thwarting a touchdown. The Warriors returned the favor near halftime, intercepting Oak Hill quarterback Justin Jones.
Washington County then scored when Vincent tipped a pass that found an unintended receiver. Braves held a 20-14 halftime lead.
Butts exploded for another touchdown rush, but the Warriors answered again. Mutual failed two-point conversions put the Braves lead to 26-20.
Washington capitalized on an Oak Hill fumble, scoring on a quarterback keeper to tie the game.
The final quarter rode the gamut of emotions.
Linebacker Lakieth Redding recovered a ripped ball down the sidelines, erupting the Brave bench. Unfortunately, the Braves threw momentum right back to Washington when a failed quarterback pitch ended in enemy hands.
With the Warriors at the 10-yard line and poised for a game winning touchdown, free safety Jimmiy Havior made the defensive play of the game slinging the ball carrier down behind the line. Overtime would determine the league crown.
Both teams had chances to score from identical close range. Oak Hill's Tychristian Henry rumbled for the first touchdown strike. Jones ran a play fake to Bell good enough for the two-point conversion also.
Washington seemed ready for more football after completing a touchdown pass on fourth down. The Braves had other ideas, stopping the opposition's tying conversion attempt.
“It was a nail biter at the end, but it felt good to score that two-point conversion. I always count on my defensive coordinator coach Tucker to save it for me,” Antley said. “I was telling him they can't get two, and he said don't worry about it. He was able to stop them.”
With dynamic playmakers returning, Oak Hill looks for another great season next year.
Feeding a Baldwin High program with talented and mature young men remains Antley's goal.
“We don't just stop on the field. We create winners in the classroom, and we expect our players to do what they are supposed to do at home,” Antley said.
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