FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Phoenix struggle in 35-16 opening loss


Missed throws and other offensive headaches cost the Phoenix football team its home opener Friday as Oberlin fell 35-16 to the Vermilion Sailors.

Oberlin received the opening kickoff and quarterback Devan Yarber was ready to lead his pack down the field, but the momentum was short-lived.

The Vermilion defense took the ball away from the Phoenix on their second play, setting the offense up in Oberlin territory. Three plays later, third-year wide receiver Jonah Pfeil put the Sailors up 7-0.

The Phoenix defense struggled to stop the Sailors’ attacks,leaving the field down by 21 at the half.

Joe Payne of Elyria cheered in the audience regardless of the score. “They’re playing a good game,” he said. “They have a good defense, but they have to know Vermilion is only running one or two plays.”

The halftime show did not disappoint as the Oberlin band kicked off with a song called “The Force.” The 59-student ensemble is the largest group to march in Oberlin since 2010.

Drum major Shyenne Miller has led the band for two years and hopes to be a role model to all the freshman.

“I’m a senior this year and I love having the younger generation come up and have them leave their legacy like I’m leaving mine,” she said.

Oberlin tightened its defense in the second half but could not find a way to stop the running game as the Sailors extended their lead to 28-0.

Just when the energy started to simmer down, Matthew Rassmussen scored the first touchdown for Oberlin.

The Sailors and Phoenix were both able to score one more touchdown before the end of the game, with first-year Jaydon Harris taking Oberlin’s score to 35-16.

“We’re Division VI, they’re Division IV,” Oberlin’s new head coach Mike Akers said. “It’s tough playing two divisions up and a good football team. It was an uphill battle from the beginning — but I’m telling you, when we start playing schools our size, I like our odds. We knew we were in for a dogfight and we were trying to hope we could hit some big plays and we just missed them.”

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

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Ravon Eisom lunges in front of Addison Painter with Justin Noble just trailing behind.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/08/web1_001.jpgRavon Eisom lunges in front of Addison Painter with Justin Noble just trailing behind.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Quarterback Devan Yarber sets off on a run while fellow teammates hold back Trevor Boyd.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/08/web1_008.jpgQuarterback Devan Yarber sets off on a run while fellow teammates hold back Trevor Boyd.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Aaron Arnold jumps in the air to catch the ball but is intercepted by Jonah Pfeil of Vermilion.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/08/web1_014.jpgAaron Arnold jumps in the air to catch the ball but is intercepted by Jonah Pfeil of Vermilion.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Drum major Shyenne Miller leads the marching band in style.
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/08/web1_027.jpgDrum major Shyenne Miller leads the marching band in style.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Coach Mike Akers says Oberlin had to “get this game out of the way.”
http://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/08/web1_039.jpgCoach Mike Akers says Oberlin had to “get this game out of the way.”

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

By Laurie Hamame

lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com