After three non-conference games in which Oberlin ended up on the wrong end of the result, coach Mike Akers and his team were looking to change the outcome as the Phoenix entered conference play on Friday against Stars-division foe Brookside.
The offense, which had showed some signs of life with 30 points the previous week, came out firing on all cylinders as the visitors outpointed the Cardinals 54-34.
The team had stayed well focused in practices throughout the week and it showed on the field once the whistle blew.
After a quick Brookside score, Oberlin marched down the field on its first possession, capped by a 15-yard jaunt from senior quarterback Devan Yarber to close the gap to 7-6.
Establishing that Oberlin could move the ball on the ground, the Phoenix demonstrated they possessed a potent aerial attack as well. Yarber connected with senior wideout Justin Smith for the next two touchdowns — one of 58 yards and the other good for 42 yards — as Oberlin pushed to a 22-17 halftime lead.
On the night, Yarber would complete seven passes, connecting with four different receivers for a total of 250 yards and four touchdowns.
The second half was no different as the Oberlin offense continued to click, generating more highlight reel plays.
The first score of the third quarter — a Yarber to junior split end Hunter Clawson — looked to be a big play of 50 yards, but became even bigger when the ball squirted free as Clawson was tackled and fellow receiver Aaron Arnold it scooped up and carried it to the house. Oberlin led 30-17.
The defense got in on the action, scoring its second TD of the young season as Smith picked off Brookside quarterback Jon Hice and scampered 65 yards for the score. In addition to the pick-six, Smith would catch four balls for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Oberlin closed its big third quarter on another big play, this one a 41 yard Yarber sprint to paydirt.
The visitors tacked on two more TDs in the fourth quarter, compliments of a final Yarber-Smith connection for 15 yards and a 35 yard rushing TD from Justin Noble.
After the game, Yarber was pleased the team could shake off the early season miscues and reward Akers for sticking with them. He applauded his offensive line which provided time in the pocket to throw the ball as well as the open running lanes for both he and his backs.
“It all starts there, in the trenches,” he said.
Akers was pleased with his players. “They’ve stayed focused all week in practice and it showed. They were ready tonight. We cut down on our turnovers, forced a few out of the Cardinals, and the big plays our boys made tonight made the difference.”
Undefeated Black River comes to town Friday.