Oak Harbor scored the most points by any of Perkins' opponents to date.
But the Rockets, like the eight other teams the Pirates have faced this season, couldn't stop the one person they needed to: Dale Irby.
The 6-foot-3 senior rushed for 276 yards on 18 carries and ran in three scores as the Pirates (9-0) cruised to their ninth straight win, and clinched a share of the Sandusky Bay Conference title with a 48-28 victory at Oak Harbor on Friday night.
“Coach (Mike) May and his staff and his players, they fought and fought and fought the entire game,” Perkins coach Jason Ziegler said. “That was a heavyweight fight. Our kids battled and we have a lot of sore guys over there, and that's a credit to them.”
The Rockets and Pirates scored on each of their first two possessions.
Oak Harbor (4-5, 3-3) came out hungry and used a ground-and-pound attack that put them on board first. After eight plays and 3:27 off the clock, Andrew Heberling broke loose down the left sideline for a 28-yard touchdown.All four of Jourdan Maguire's PATs were good.
Perkins needed just 16 seconds to answer.
On the first play of the Pirates first drive, Irby ran in a 57-yard score and Matt Cremean's first of six PATs was good to tie it up at 7.
Oak Harbor countered immediately.
Ben Genzman capped off an 11-play, 65-yard drive with a 6-yard run to take a 14-7 lead.
The Pirates used up a little more clock on their second drive. Irby and John Workman each had three carries to set the Pirates up on the Rocket 2-yard line. Workman drove in the score with 11:20 left in the second quarter.
The Rocket's went three-and-out on their ensuing drive while Irby broke free again on the Pirates first play, this time a 64-yarder to give Perkins the go-ahead score.
“We didn't start as well as I wanted to defensively, we've got a lot of things to fix,” Ziegler said. “They mashed us up front a little bit. We made some mistakes and they did a nice job. But I think when it counted, our kids stepped up. Guys like Dale Irby and John Workman, I'm proud of the way they played.”
The Pirates got the ball to start the second half and capitalized in just five plays when Workman ran in a 3-yarder.
That momentum carried over into the next drive when Vinnie Scavio intercepted Oak Harbor's Andre Ramsey. Nine plays later, Moore ran in a 3-yard score to make it 35-14.
Adam Snyder ran in another score in the third quarter to give Perkins a sizable lead.
“I thought we competed for all four quarters but we had some tough breaks there to start the second half,” Oak Harbor coach Mike May said.
But the Rockets didn't roll over.
With 50 seconds left in the third, Heberling charged up the middle of the field and scored a 73-yard run.
“I thought they really came out hard and battled,” May said. “We just kept battling and I am proud of our kids efforts. I think our offensive line played well tonight. We've got some backs that, Andrew Heberling for example, that are capable of making big plays for us. We also had Ben Genzman and Cobi Brough hammering it up through the middle for a good change of pace. I thought our offense line played really, really well tonight.”
Genzman also broke loose up the middle for a 42-yard TD with 10:58 left to play that shaved the margin to 41-28.
“I think it was just mental break downs,” Ziegler said of his defense late in the game. “Basic breakdowns of where we should have been. A guy went a wrong way and they took a long run. We have to get better because little mental mistakes like that will cost us. We can't afford to do that. But we held them. Our defense played well at times and when they really needed to.”
Oak Harbor tried an onside kick on the ensuing play, and looked to have done so successfully when they caught the ball 15 yards from where they punted. But the ball never touched the ground and Perkins took back over.
The Rockets had the Pirates at a fourth-and-7 at the Rocket 27, but Irby ran for eight and the Pirates scored on a 4-yard run by Irby four plays later.
“That was huge. We knew we were going to come over here and this was going to be a battle,” Ziegler said. “We didn't take this game for granted.”
It was one of, if not the toughest game the Pirates' have played this season and Ziegler said it exposed a lot.
“We had a lot of mistakes on offense,” he said. “We turned the ball over a couple times and those are things we can't do. We also had too many penalties. Championship football teams don't do that, and that's something we're going to focus on this week. It's going to be a great battle with St. Mary's next week. This is going to be the last time they play in the SBC so we want to wish them well.”