By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
MAYS LANDING — Oakcrest players said they felt slighted when area publications had the Falcons listed as “rebuilding” this season. First-year head coach Eric Anderson told his players if they want to change that perception, there’s one thing they can do — go out and win games.
The host Falcons followed up a 35-0, season-opening win over Ocean City with an equally resounding 33-6 victory over Buena Regional on Friday night to improve to 2-0, and got things going right from the start. Oakcrest recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, and moments later had a 6-0 lead after quarterback Kendall Elliott plowed in from two yards out. Buena answered on its next drive when quarterback Jake Maxwell sprinted 55 yards up the middle for a touchdown to tie the game, 6-6, but from then on it was all Falcons.
“Hats off to Buena, because every year it’s the same thing with that wing-T. They beat you up the middle or they beat you with that quarterback run or with the sweep. They are very disciplined, but we did a good job of coaching it up, watching a lot of film and knowing what was coming. And our defensive line did a fantastic job tonight against them,” Anderson said. “We actually were lined up wrong when (Maxwell’s touchdown run) happened. We just stayed positive with the guys and said, hey, line up right, know your assignments and get after it.”
The Chiefs (1-1) know Oakcrest has a potent passing attack, so the game plan was to rush three and drop everybody else back into coverage. Elliott had trouble finding open receivers, but took matters into his own hands, continually scrambling for first-down yardage when nothing was open downfield.
“All week I’ve been watching film non-stop. When they only rush three they drop eight guys way back and that opens up running lanes. They tried to send a couple of blitzes, but my line did a great job. I just have to keep my head on a swivel. I locked in on a couple receivers and some bad things happened, but we just have to build on that,” Elliott said. “The defensive line, the linebackers — the lines on both sides of the ball did great tonight.”
“That was part of the game plan. I figured after we passed a lot last week they were going to drop back a lot in coverage,” Anderson said. “I didn’t know they were going to drop back eight. I thought they would bring some heat. But I just told (Kendall) that if (the run) is there, take it. Just be smart.”
Oakcrest’s offensive line, led by senior twins Armani and Armond Duren, gave Elliott all kinds of time in the pocket, but with most receivers double-covered throughout the night, Elliott was forced out of the pocket on most of the Falcons’ pass plays. Late in the first quarter, Elliott scrambled from the Buena 17-yard line all the way down to the 1 before Yaier Hinton punched it in to give the Falcons a 12-6 lead. Elliott scrambled down to the 1 again early in the second quarter before scoring his second touchdown of the game to push the lead to 19-6.
Elliott scored his third touchdown of the game in the third quarter, busting loose up the middle for a 34-yard score. He then hit Jailen Heard on a throwback screen for the two-point conversion as the Falcons’ lead swelled to 27-6. Hinton added a four-yard scoring run with 8:30 left in the game to cap Oakcrest’s night.
“We just had to stop the run and stop the dive. We worked on that all week, stopping the dive. We had a misalignment (on the Maxwell run), but we made some tweaks,” Hinton said. “This is ‘ship work. We’ll be right back to practice tomorrow.”
“Our confidence level is very high. There’s a lot of senior leadership here and they are excited,” Anderson said. “They are a little mad that some people said we were rebuilding this year. They want to show the world that we’re not rebuilding.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays