WALES — Kyle Flaherty is back. That information can officially strike fear into the hearts of Western Class D defenses.

Flaherty, Oak Hill’s senior running back, rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown in his first action since injuring his hamstring earlier in the season. He spearheaded a rushing attack that led the Raiders to a 32-2 win over Old Orchard Beach on Saturday.

Of his rushing yards, 150 came in the first half for Flaherty.

“It felt great to be back,” Flaherty said.

Alex Mace added 116 yards of offense (77 rushing, 39 receiving) for the Raiders, while quarterback Dalton Therrien made the most of his two passing attempts, connecting with Mace for a 39-yard touchdown pass to start the third quarter. Therrien also ran for Oak Hill’s first touchdown. In total, the Raiders (5-0) rushed for 326 yards against the Seagulls (3-2).

“I trust my linemen more than anybody,” Flaherty said. “They open up holes that you can drive a truck through. It’s just crazy.”

With Flaherty’s return and the rainy weather, the Raiders decided to shy away from their spread offense and used the double-wing formation against the Seagulls. Oak Hill scored on its first two possessions, capping a five play, 87-yard drive with Therrien rushing for a 13-yard touchdown on a quarterback sweep to give the Raiders the early 7-0 lead.

“According to the weather report, we felt (the field) might be sloppy,” Oak Hill head coach Stacen Doucette said. “We practiced real hard this week with power formations. We felt we had to iron some things out, but we looked pretty good at times.”

“I love that formation,” Flaherty said. “It’s what we used in the state (championship) game and it’s just good for short yardage. It’s the kind of team that we are.”

Oak Hill’s defense was just as effective as its offense, forcing five turnovers, two of which came from Old Orchard driving deep into Raiders territory.

Jonah Martin recovered an Old Orchard fumble at the Seagulls’ 48-yard line on the following possession and three plays later, Flaherty raced down the sideline for a 27-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead.

The Raiders lengthened the lead to 21-0 in the second quarter when Mace scored on a 15-yard run on a sweep play. Special teams played a role for the Raiders on their next drive, as kicker Adam Merrill booted a 31-yard field goal to give Oak Hill a 24-0 lead.

The Seagulls had back-to-back drives near the end of the half inside the Raiders’ red zone, but not only did Oak Hill turn Old Orchard away, it forced turnovers both times. Seagulls quarterback Bryan Roberts connected with running back Dylan Creswell on a pass at the Raiders’ 4-yard line, but the ball was knocked loose after Creswell’s catch, and Oak Hill’s Levi Buteau recovered. Old Orchard had the ball at the Oak Hill 6-yard line on the following drive, but Roberts fumbled on a quarterback keeper and the Raiders once again took advantage.

“We fumbled twice inside the 5 (yard line),” Old Orchard Beach head coach Dean Plante said. “We stalled on the 10. We spotted them points.”

“Defensively, we bend but don’t break,” Doucette said. “The philosophy worked today.”

The Seagulls lone points of the game came late in the first half, when an errant snap on a punt deep in Oak Hill territory went out of bounds in the end zone for a safety. Entering halftime, the Raiders held a 24-2 lead.

We knew we were going to see the double-wing, it was double-wing kind of weather,” Plante said. “But that’s all they ran. No spread formations. We made some adjustments, the kids stopped it after that, but when you’re down (24-2), it changes the game plan.”

The Raiders struck again on their first offensive play of the second half, when Therrien connected with Mace on a 39-yard touchdown pass to give Oak Hill a 30-2 lead. The Raiders final points of the game came on a safety, when the Seagulls had an errant snap on a punt deep in their own territory that went out of the end zone.

Roberts was 7 of 13 passing for the Seagulls for 97 yards. Running back Andrew Graves had 43 rushing yards on 12 carries for Old Orchard.

Dave Dyer — 621-5639

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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