COALFIELD — There were bright spots for Oneida here Friday. The Indians had more first downs than Coalfield (15 to 12), limited the Yellow Jackets to 35 rushing yards while racking up 254 of their own, had 15 more total plays (54 to 39), dominated time of possession (30:23 to 17:37), converted two of three fourth down attempts, and limited Coalfield to two of eight on third down.
And, yet, the game was never close, as Coalfield scored a 34-7 win for its second consecutive win in the rivalry.
That was mostly due to the passing ability of Coalfield quarterback Parker McKinney. The senior Mr. Football candidate completed 14 of 22 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns, connecting with his receivers for a number of big plays.
“There’s no doubt they’re everything I thought they were,” Oneida head coach Tony Lambert said. “It’s good to see Parker McKinney healthy. I voted for him for Mr. Football. He’s a high-character kid that’s also a fantastic player.”
Despite having to punt more often than scoring touchdowns, Coalfield had scoring plays of 17, 40 and 81 yards in the first half, added a first half pick-six for a 26-0 halftime lead, and tacked on a 26-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Oneida was able to shut down Coalfield’s rushing attack, but could not stop McKinney and his talented receiving corps.
“I thought we played the run well tonight,” Lambert said. “But the passing game, we couldn’t even get in the area code sometimes. Sometimes we’d get beat on the corner and sometimes the safety would make the wrong call and they wouldn’t be on the same page. That’s coaching. That’s our fault. I’m never gonna throw my guys under the bus. I gotta do a better job getting them ready to go.”
While the halftime score was lopsided, Oneida stood toe-to-toe with Coalfield in the second half. A Yellow Jacket two-point conversion was the difference, as the Indians were out-scored 8-7. But each team put one touchdown on the board, and Oneida was inside the Yellow Jackets’ five-yard-line as time expired.
While some of that may have been due to Coalfield’s relaxed play-calling after the lead became 34-0, the Yellow Jackets were throwing the ball with McKinney in the game until late in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we’d win the point of attack better than we did, and in the second half I thought we did,” Lambert said. “That’s the thing. It’s there; we just gotta do a better job of getting them to come out. You gotta believe it when you walk on the field. I’m not a psychiatrist by any means, but I gotta find a way to get these guys to believe.”
Much of Oneida’s second half success on the offensive side of the football was due to the running of Colby Boyatt. The sophomore running back came on in relief and wound up with 130 yards on 11 carries, including the Indians’ only score.
As for the first half, Oneida opened up its offensive playbook against Coalfield, incorporating several wrinkles among which was a wildcat look with Bryson Buttram taking direct snaps. But Coalfield limited the Indians to 77 first half yards, making life difficult for Oneida.
The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, found the end zone on a 17-yard pass from McKinney to Ashton Jones, and a 43-yard pass from McKinney to his younger brother, Peyton McKinney.
Later, in the second quarter, Drake Miklas escaped a tackle after hauling in a short McKinney pass and raced 81 yards for a score. Coalfield’s final touchdown of the first half came on a 37-yard interception return for a score by Devin Buck.
Coalfield put another score on the board in the third quarter, with McKinney and Michael Lowe connecting for a 27-yard score. The McKinney brothers then hooked up for a two-point conversion to push the lead to 34-0.
Boyatt scored on a 34-yard run late in the third quarter. He also had a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter that didn’t result in a touchdown.
The loss dropped Oneida to 6-4 on the season. The Indians, who finished third in Region 2-2A, will travel to Elizabethton, Tenn., on Friday to face Happy Valley in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.