HOMINY – It seemed like a meaningless play.
Hominy had the ball inside the red zone, up by double digits with two seconds left in the game.
Junior quarterback Shane Brown dropped back and found Clifford Hayes in the end zone for a score as the final buzzer sounded to further extend the margin of defeat for Morrison.
It seemed trivial, but it was the exact opposite of that in Morrison’s 30-12 loss in Osage County on Friday night.
The touchdown play finale that defined the Wildcats’ evening pushed Hominy past the threshold of gaining the maximum amount district points, essentially caving in Morrison’s chances at making the playoffs.
The Wildcats could’ve clinched the No. 3 spot in the district with a victory. Even a close loss would’ve kept them in good position for the postseason. But Friday night’s contest was an accumulating snowball of demoralizing misfortunes for Morrison.
Barring Tonkawa pulling an upset on the Bucks in Week 10, the Wildcats will be on the wrong side of a three-team tiebreaker for the final two playoff spots and will miss the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Morrison coach Cory Bales said he told his team before kickoff that it was basically a playoff game, and his team came up short.
“I feel bad for the kids,” Bales said. “... It’s hard right now knowing that there’s nothing you’re playing for in two weeks which is very uncommon around here.”
After a first quarter where neither team could score, Hominy (6-3 overall; 3-3 District A-5) got on the scoreboard early in the second with a 67-yard touchdown pass down the sideline from Brown to Hayes.
Morrison’s offense couldn’t answer, and the Bucks had the ball again inside the Wildcat 20-yard line with under two minutes left in the half. Hayes carried the ball to the five, and Morrison linebacker Cannon Benson ripped the ball out of Hayes’ arms. The ball flew into the end zone, and Hominy’s Logan May fell on top of it to give the Bucks a 12-0 lead.
The Wildcats (6-3; 4-3) tried to put together a drive late in the half, but quarterback Jared Harmon had the ball knocked out of his grasp, allowing Brayden Barbee to scoop it up and sprint 55 yards for another Hominy touchdown.
The Bucks led 18-0 at the half, something Bales said he wanted his team to fix quickly.
“We talked about in the locker room how bad stuff happened in the first half,” Bales said. “We wanted to go out there and get a couple of scores.”
Morrison answered the call, as the Wildcats scored the next 12 points of the game over the course of the next quarter in a half. Harmon punched one touchdown in on a quarterback sneak and threw another one to Brody Vaughn from eight yards out.
The Wildcats trailed 18-12 with just under eight minutes left in the game. From there, though, their momentum ran out.
After a few stalled possessions, Hominy drove down the field with under three minutes left. Brown capped the drive off with a 3-yard rushing score to make it a 24-12 Buck lead.
Morrison made one last push, but Hominy’s defensive line shut it down much like it had most of the game. Bales said he knew the Bucks’ pass rush would be good, as it was barely giving Harmon any time to operate in the pocket.
“Being down early turned us one-dimensional,” Bales said. “So they were able to tee off and bring a lot of blitzes.”
Once Hominy got the ball back, the final passing score from Brown to Hayes properly capped off a night to wipe from Morrison’s memory.
For a team which has experienced many highs through the grind of the season, Friday will go down as one of the lowest lows.
“Hopefully tonight is something we learn from,” Bales said. “We’re in a tough district, obviously, to finish 7-3 and not get in. It will be strange after next week.”