By Mark Pinto
MASON, Ohio – The wet and sloppy conditions at Dwire Field did not stop Oak Hills’ Demarco Ruffin, as the senior running back rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns to help Oak Hills defeat Mason, 30-7, to open conference play Friday.
“It’s always fun to watch him play because he loves to play,” said Oak Hills head coach Dan Scholz. “He (Ruffin) wants to be so good and he works hard.”
The game was called with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter when two Oak Hills players, senior free safety Cary Jones and senior cornerback Khiren Beamon hit each other’s helmet going for a tackle.
Both players were taken off the field on stretchers to be evaluated. It was decided to end the game at that point instead of resuming.
Scholz said the two players will be fine and were not seriously injured.
The Highlanders dominated not just on the offensive side of the football, but defensively as well, holding Mason to 132 total yards, including 23 yards on the ground.
In the second half, Mason was only able to muster 45 yards and four first downs, which all came in the fourth quarter after the Comets had falled behind by 23.
“This is something we need to do to be a resilient team,” Scholz said. “We are trying to develop that toughness of the mind as well as that physical toughness, and they have done that but it’s very important to continue to build on.”
On its opening drive, Oak Hills drove 70 yards on nine plays, and senior Evan Merk kicked a 27-yard field goal. The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage as Ruffin was able to break-off a 43- and 21-yard run in that drive.
Ruffin followed that opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left in the first quarter to make it 10-0. The scoring drive was set up by Oak Hills’ special teams getting a hand on a punt that traveled just three yards.
Mason shrunk the deficit in the second quarter when the offense put together a 12-play, 78-yard drive capped off by Mason senior quarterback Jensen Harris’ 2-yard TD run.
With the score 10-7, Ruffin gave Oak Hills a little more breathing room after taking a handoff 34 yards for his second score of the night with just over two minutes left in the second quarter.
In the second half, the Comets continued to struggle. The offense went three-and-out in three straight possessions to start the third quarter, and Oak Hills took advantage.
Oak Hills’ started its second possession of the second half at the Mason 39, and Ruffin was able to break a 38-yard touchdown run for his third touchdown of the night on the third play.
His fourth touchdown came on a 2-yard run with just under nine minutes left in the game.
“Our kicking game did a great job making sure we kept them down there, and (we) had good coverage especially after we scored,” Scholz said. “Anytime you pin them down there and are playing good defense it is an advantage for us.”
Both teams will continue their Greater Miami conference schedule, as Oak Hills will host Fairfield next Friday and Mason tries to bounce back as the Comets go on the road to face Middletown.