WALES — It played with the best, and for a short while, it looked like it just might beat the best.

But as it chased down the shocker of the season, the Oak Hill High School football team instead saw just what has made Wells the most formidable squad in Class D this fall.

Fueled by the hard-charging duo of Nolan Potter and Tyler Bridge, the Warriors scored four second-half touchdowns to shake off the upset-minded Raiders, improving to 5-0 with a 41-21 victory on Saturday afternoon.

“The kids just have this thing, I don’t know, this resilience they have that just gets them right back in the game,” Wells coach Tim Roche said. “They came out, and Nolan and Tyler kind of teamed up there.”

Make no mistake — despite the three-score final margin, it was a gut check. Oak Hill (2-3) rallied back from a 14-0 hole, and had the Warriors looking for answers when they went into the locker room at halftime tied at 14 — answers that Wells, in the third and fourth quarters, was able to find.

“I think we showed mental toughness because we went down, twice,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “We put on a little run both times. I thought we had difficulties running the ball, but I thought pass protection was very nice, receivers caught the ball and we ran good routes. Passing game looked pretty good at times today.”

The passing game brought Oak Hill back into the game after Wells notched two first-quarter touchdowns. The Raiders took over at the Wells 49-yard line after a punt with 9:46 to go and freshman quarterback Gavin Rawstron got them rolling, finding Darryn Bailey (seven catches, 72 yards) for a 25-yard gain on fourth-and-11 and then hitting him again with another jump ball two plays later for a 26-yard score, cutting the gap to 14-6 with 6:41 left in the half.

Oak Hill held the now discombobulated Wells offense to a three-and-out and Rawstron struck again, hitting Caleb Treadwell for a 31-yard touchdown after Warriors corner Christian Saulnier lost his footing in coverage. Rawstron misfired on his first four passes, throwing an interception in that span, but completed six of his next eight to draw the Raiders even at 14 in time for the half.

“Everyone on the team’s put their trust and faith in me,” said Rawstron (11-of-21, 120 yards), who led the offense despite getting only 29 yards on 22 carries from his running backs. “They all follow me. Even if I make a mistake, they help me out.”

The momentum was with the Raiders and their energy was palpable, but the team on the other sideline wasn’t concerned. Wells rallied back from a deficit at the break to beat Madison last week, and the Warriors knew it was within their power to ensure this game turned out that way as well.

“We stayed calm at halftime,” Bridge said. “We came out a little bit flat in the first half, but our line picked up where we started off the first two drives. In the second half, we came right back.”

Indeed, the Wells team that came out of the intermission appeared rejuvenated. Potter (18 carries, 140 yards) found the end zone on the first drive, finishing off a 56-yard series by breaking through the line for a 19-yard run, making it 20-14 with 9:06 left in the third. After Oak Hill punted it was Bridge’s turn, and the tall (6-foot-3) but shifty junior brushed away tacklers while running up the middle for a 14-yard score that bumped the lead to 28-14 with 4:02 to go in the period.

Oak Hill wasn’t done, going 62 yards on 13 plays on its next drive before Cruz Poirier dove in from a yard out to make it 28-21 with 10:51 to play. The pressure was back on the Wells sideline, but the Warriors answered with a backbreaker when Bridge (nine carries, 119 yards) swept left on the first play from scrimmage, shook off a would-be tackler behind the line and took off down the left sideline for a 59-yard run, building Wells’s lead back up to 34-21 with 10:32 to play.

“There was a little stuff in the middle, so I bounced out,” Bridge said. “Got some nice blocks and just kept my feet moving.”

Potter rounded out the scoring with a 9-yard run with 8:48 to play as the Warriors put the finishing touches on a win that was easy only according to the scoreboard.

“I don’t know what it is. … I’ve coached for 20 years, and for whatever reason we hate playing on Saturdays except when it becomes championship game Saturday,” Roche said. “But give them credit, (Oak Hill) played a tough game. (Doucette’s) got a tough little young squad there.”

The afternoon couldn’t have gotten started much better for the Warriors, who got a 39-yard run from Chad Fitzpatrick on their first play from scrimmage and a 4-yard touchdown run from Bridge to cap their first drive. Wells struck again after blocking a punt on Oak Hill’s second drive, with Potter splitting the defense with an 18-yard touchdown run with 1:30 left in the first.

Oak Hill had the answer, leaving Doucette with plenty to be satisfied with even if Wells had the final statement.

“I think we did a lot of good things,” he said. “What we’re going to do is we’re going to go right back to work on Monday, work on Madison and improve our program.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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