OWASSO – Several Stillwater High football players fell to their knees as Choctaw High sophomore kicker Tommy Yousey field goal attempt floated through the uprights.
As the ball sailed end over end through the north goalposts of the Owasso High stadium, the Pioneers saw their season – and prep careers for some – come to an end on a last-second field goal.
The kick, which was made as the fourth quarter clock expired, gave Choctaw a 38-35 victory over Stillwater in the Class 6A-II state semifinals. It was the Pioneers’ only loss on the season, and meant they won’t reach the state championship contest for the third-straight year.
“Except for winning it all, I haven’t found any easy way to end it yet,” SHS coach Tucker Barnard said. “I told the guys that life is hard and sometimes you lose. We didn’t want to go out that way and didn’t expect to go out that way, but they made one more play than we did.
“We try to set these guys up for life through playing a sport. We lost and didn’t get the result we wanted, and now we’ve got to find a way to pick ourselves back up and keep going, keep pushing and keep fighting for the next thing.”
Choctaw (9-3) scored the game-tying touchdown with 3 minutes and 59 seconds left in the game on a one-yard run by quarterback Steele Wasel. It was just the second tie of the back-and-forth contest.
Stillwater (9-1) had a chance to regain the lead, but a slip by senior running back Qwontrel Walker on second down set up a third-and-6. The ensuing play was a sack of senior quarterback Caleb Allen, forcing the Pioneers to punt with two minutes remaining in the game.
On the first play, Choctaw tailback La’Trell Ray burst through the middle of the SHS defense for a 47-yard run, bringing his total for the game to 104 yards. Wasel found Jax Burchett for a 19-yard gain before Wasel ran to the left hashmark to set the field goal.
The game clock had expired, but officials added 1 second after the clock failed to stop following Wasel’s run. The field goal was nearly blocked, but it sailed through the uprights and Choctaw celebrated.
Meanwhile, it was heartbreak for the Pioneers, especially the senior class that had been a big part of back-to-back state runner-up teams. They lost only three games in the past seasons, while winning 33 games.
“It’s been a great class,” Barnard said. “I couldn’t ask for much more from these guys and what they’ve done. They had great success. They came up a little short today, but they’re going to learn and find ways to pick it up and be better.”
Neither team led by more than a touchdown during the contest. Stillwater took a quick 6-0 lead on a 76-yard pass from Allen to junior Ty Smithton, who finished the game with three receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Pioneers.
Stillwater’s aerial attack was hurt when leading receiver – senior Steven Brown – was injured after his only catch of the game in the second quarter. Brown, who missed last year’s title game after tearing his ACL, didn’t return to the game and could only cheer his teammates from the sideline.
“He’s going to be fine,” Barnard said of Brown. “He just didn’t have good use of his shoulder.”
Allen completed 12 of 20 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. He was also sacked eight times as Choctaw loaded the box and brought pressure throughout the contest.
That pressure also bottled up Walker for much of the game. He had only 46 yards – on 12 carries – in the first half, despite breaking a 34-yard touchdown run. In the second half, Walker found more creases in his offensive line, going for 129 yards on 17 carries. He did score three touchdowns in his final game as a Pioneer.
“They loaded the box and played man on the outside,” Barnard said. “That’s not a great box to try to run into. Ty Smithton had a heck of a night. Qwontrel and the offensive linemen kept working and had to make their holes tonight, because there wasn’t anything easy in there.”
“Qwontrel kind of turned it up at the end and wasn’t going to be denied,” Barnard said. “That’s something he’s been able to do throughout his career. When it’s been hard, he kept plugging away. His last touchdown – he just wasn’t going to be kept out.”
Choctaw will play Bixby for the 6A-II state title.