Maclay and Oak Hall captains line up for coin toss prior to game
Maclay and Oak Hall captains line up for the coin toss prior to Friday night's game.

Maclay hands Oak Hall third loss of season in hard-fought game

Fourth and inches. Sophomore quarterback Cole Gonzales lines up quickly, takes the snap and runs the ball up the gut. Gonzales is stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

The Maclay defense stepped up when it mattered most in the Marauders’ 42-16 defeat of Oak Hall. Down 21-16, Oak Hall attempted a quarterback sneak to keep the drive alive and potentially take the lead. 

“I felt like we demoralized them right there,” said senior linebacker AJ Miller. “That’s when I knew we had the game in the bag. They couldn’t even get a couple inches on us.”

Momentum shifted with Maclay’s defensive stand. Freshman running back Rhyder Poppell recorded a hat-trick of rushing scores before Oak Hall could blink. 

“I thought we had them on the ropes,” said Oak Hall head coach RJ Fuhr. “Nine times out of ten we make that. If we get that first down, I think it’s a different game.”

Early-game battle

The game remained a dogfight through the first three quarters. Oak Hall scored first after a botched Maclay punt attempt set up a three-yard rushing touchdown by Gonzales.

Maclay responded quickly. Senior wide receiver Robert Parker-Crawford put the defense on skates with a 78-yard reception for a touchdown.

“[Parker-Crawford] is an incredible player,” Fuhr said. “He can just make kids miss. He’s a next-level talent.”

The Maclay defense capitalized on an Oak Hall turnover in the second quarter. Miller scooped up a fumble by Gonzales and returned it for a score.

“The first half was tough for us,” Miller said. “That was a big score right there to get us some momentum.”

Maclay and Oak Hall traded touchdowns in the third quarter. Six points, however, is all Oak Hall would score in the second half.

“I thought our effort was perfect,” said Maclay head coach Lance Ramer. “We didn’t give up the explosive play, which I think is key against an explosive offense.”

Final regular-season games approach

Maclay (8-1) closes out its regular season against Florida A&M (2-7) on Nov. 1. The Marauders are yet to beat Florida A&M on the road at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee.

Oak Hall (6-3) travels to Quincy on Nov. 1 to take on Munroe (1-8). The Eagles will look to get back on track as the playoffs draw near.

“This doesn’t define our season,” Fuhr said. “We’ve got a lot of football left to play.”

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