Oliver Ames football coach Jim Artz made a decision in the first half of Saturday's inter-league clash between the Tigers and the Pembroke Titans:
Give the ball to senior captain St. Clair Ryan and let him follow his blockers.
"The way that they were defending it, there were certain things that we saw that we liked and would give us some advantages," Artz said. "[Ryan] is gaining each week. He ran very good against a good Franklin team last week."
Ryan's dominant performance Saturday helped OA earn a convincing win over Pembroke, 28-6 to improve to 4-1 overall (0-1 in the Hock). Pembroke dropped to 2-2 overall.
Ryan finished the game with 155 yards rushing on 28 carries, with 2 touchdowns and 12 yards receiving.
Thanks to the Tiger defense, he out-rushed the entire Pembroke team by 134 yards. The Titans were only able to muster 21 yards rushing. A Cory Brandon to Nicholas Burns 59-yard touchdown reception at the beginning of the second quarter was the one shining light for Pembroke.
"There was a mistake every offensive play," Pembroke coach Bob Bancroft said. "We didn’t handle some of the defensive stunts. We just didn’t play well. The quarterback didn’t play very well, our offensive line didn’t play very well – everybody. We just got to a point where we were catching up all the time."
From the get-go, OA established an advantage with a 61-yard opening drive capped off with a Matt Berksza touchdown before the Pembroke offense even stepped foot on the field.
After Pembroke responded with Burns' reception and a failed extra point attempt to make the score 7-6, the Tigers marched down the field twice more in the first half. A 20-yard touchdown run by Ryan and a one-yard touchdown run from Berksza made the score 20-6. Both drives started in Pembroke territory and were marked by a sharp running attack.
"I like what we are becoming," Artz said. "We’ve kind of taken on a little bit of a smash mouth persona and we’ve gotten back to a little bit more of an ‘I’ look and it’s been good for us. We’ve proven that we can throw the ball and we can run the ball. If we do that it makes us hard to defend."
Although Pembroke had the ball to start the second half, OA's stifling 'D' made sure the Tigers regained control of th eball so they could to put the game out of Pembroke's reach.
OA forced a 3-and-out and marched the ball down the field 40 yards in what culminated in another Ryan 4-yard touchdown run.
"That was a big drive for us to start the second half," Artz said. "We get them to go three and out, we get the ball and we just march it down the field."
The Tigers scored two more points in the fourth quarter when a stifling pass rush pinned the Titans at their own 1-yard line, allowing for a Colin Lozzi sack in the endzone and a safety.
"We like that kind of smash mouth look," said Artz. "It makes us a little bit more of a ball game. And, the defense: Colin Lozzi has played outstanding; Sean Kelly; Joey Tepper – we’ve got some kids who can play great defense."
Riding high, the Tigers will take host newly-anointed Hockomock League team Taunton next Saturday at Muscato Stadium.
"They’re very athletic, they’re well coached, they’re very big," Artz said. "We’re going to have to make sure that we come ready to play and we execute."