By Andrew Glover
MORRISON, Okla. —
Last week in Kiefer, the Morrison Wildcats struggled in the battle in the trenches. Friday in the first round of the Class A state playoffs, Morrison got redemption as it ran for 323 yards in a 38-12 victory over the Fairland Owls.
“Offensively, I think we did some great things up front,” coach Cory Bales said. “I’m proud of (lineman) Austin Graham, he came in here after we had some injuries last week and had a solid game for us.”
The game got off to a shaky start for the Wildcats. On the first play from scrimmage, Fairland quarterback K.C. Jones ran down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown. The 2-point pass failed but the Owls led 6-0 just 15 seconds into the game.
Morrison’s first drive started well as it drove inside Fairland’s 10, taking up seven minutes of the clock. On third-and-goal the ball was snapped over senior Kyle Collins head, resulting in a 10-yard loss to the Owls’ 15. On the next play, Collins ended the drive with an incomplete pass. After taking the lead 8-6 on a 10-yard run by Jordan Quinata, Collins threw an interception, which DIllion Sanford returned 68 yards for a score, giving the lead back to Fairland in the second quarter.
“We give them a score on the interception,” Bales said. “On that first play we had some misses on our option responsibilities, which is frustrating since we spent so much time working on it.”
The Wildcats finally started clicking on offense after that. On the first play of Morrison’s next drive, Quinata ran up the middle for a 63-yard touchdown. The 2-point pass failed but Morrison retook the lead 14-12.
Morrison’s defense forced a punt, which Collins returned 18 yards to the Fairland 36. A 15-yard penalty for a horse collar tackle moved the ball to the Fairland 21. Quinata capped off the drive with his third rushing touchdown. The freshman running back finished the game with 167 yards rushing.
Scott VanDorn ended the Owls’ next possession with an interception at Morrison’s 30. Collins completed a pass to Tevin Conklin for 56 yards to the Owls’ 12. Collins finished the drive with a 4-yard run. The Wildcats led 30-12 at halftime.
The Wildcats, who are predominately a rushing team, gained 83 yards through the air on four completions. Collins and Bales said they’ve been working on the passing game.
“We are trying to do that more,” Collins said. “Teams expect us to run the ball. We want to try to get them off balance.”
“We got to do that,” Bales said. “We are going to lineup against a quality team next week. Keep them off balance and we will continue working on that.”
Morrison’s defense tightened up after allowing that touchdown run. The Owls only gained 2 yards on their next 13 carries and only picked up one first down the rest of the half. Jones led the Owls’ offensive attack with 106 yards rushing and passed for 13 for 119 yards of total offense.
“Other than (the big play) the defense played great,” Bales said.
In the second half, the Wildcats gave Fairland a brief glimmer of hope as Quinata fumbled, giving the Owls the ball at the Morrison 46. Jones would give the ball right back to Morrison as he fumbled at the Wildcats’ 28. Morrison scored two minutes later with Collins scoring on a 9-yard run for his second touchdown. Morrison outgained Fairland 406-119.
The Wildcats will travel to Wynnewood (11-0) for the second round. The Savages beat Gore 67-14 in their first round game.
“Wynnewood is a good team,” Collins said. “I think we can go down there and give them our best shot.”