Panthers Cruz past Knights, 46-7
By Justin Scrimshire
ONL Sports Reporter
The road to a 2019 post-season appearance began Friday night as the Panthers faced their first district opponent of the season. Looking to right the ship after a tough non-conference schedule, Okemah sailed past Henryetta with a convincing 46-7 victory.
The Panthers faced a few setbacks that enabled Henryetta to keep the game close early on, but Okemah absolutely unloaded in the second half, dominating the Knights on both sides of the ball.
Mikey Cruz had a night to remember with three touchdowns and 250 accumulated yards on offense. Cruz’s performance was supported by outstanding play from the Panther defense that included four interceptions, two by Kaiden Bear and one each for Tyler Campbell and Korbyn Vansant.
The Panthers won the coin flip but chose to defer and Henryetta started the game on offense. The Knights didn’t make it very far before punting at their own 35-yard line.
Okemah began their first drive on their own 28-yard line and advanced all the way to the Henryetta 24-yard line but turned the ball over on a fumble.
Henryetta’s second drive resulted in another punt, pinning Okemah back at the Panther 12-yard line. The Panthers offense took the field and on the very first play, Mikey Cruz burst throught the middle for an 88-yard rushing touchdown. A successful two-point conversion gave the Panthers an 8-0 lead.
The Knights returned to the field only to be sacked by Wacey Williams and then intercepted by Landon Dennis, giving the Panthers possession at the Knight 44-yard line.
Okemah steadily drove down the field before scoring on a 4th and goal rushing touchdown by Mikey Cruz. A failed two-point conversion made the score 14-0.
The Knights offense took the field and were able to put together a scoring drive despite quarterback sacks by Jesse Wingate and Wacey Williams, making it 14-7 with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Neither team was able to score for the rest of the second quarter, with both sides punting the ball away on all of their remaining series.
Henryetta opened the third quarter with a little bit of trickery, trying to get away with an onside kick, but the Panthers recovered at the Henryetta 48-yard line. Okemah struck immediately when Mikey Cruz burst through the middle for his second freight train run of the night, scoring on a 48 yard rushing touchdown. A successful two-point conversion stretched the Panther lead, 22-7.
Henryetta’s offense returned to the field but were dismissed shortly thereafter with an interception by Tyler Campbell at the Knights 45-yard line. The Panthers had the momentum but their drive stalled with a turnover on downs inside the Henryetta goal line.
The Knights offense returned to the field deep inside their own territory. Henryetta advanced to their 23-yard line before being forced to punt. However, a high snap over the punter’s head forced the Knights to chase down the ball and attempt a pass. Korbyn Vansant was there during the heads up play for an interception at the 14-yard line.
Okemah took advantage of the short yardage situation and punched it in for a touchdown on a quarterback keeper by Kurtis Wilson. Following a successful two-point conversion, the Panthers had a commanding 30-7 lead late in the third quarter.
Henryetta’s offense returned to the field facing an uphill climb and Kaiden Bear made it even steeper when he intercepted the ball at the Knight 40-yard line. Bear was able to return it to the end zone but the Panthers were called back for a penalty and took over possession at midfield.
The Panthers struck again with a 40-yard reverse from Wacey Williams, setting up a first down at the Knight 10-yard line. A few plays later Kurtis Wilson found Landon Dennis in the end zone for a touchdown. A successful two-point conversion extended the Panther lead, 38-7 with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter.
Playing for pride, the Knights took the field and made their way down the field, threatening to score. Kaiden Bear shut them down a second time with an interception in Henryetta’s end zone and returned it all the way out to the Knight 40-yard line.
The Panthers took the field and drove the final nail into the Knight coffin when Tyler Campbell fought his way for a 24-yard touchdown, dragging four Henryetta Knights with him into the end zone. The final two-point conversion of the night was unsuccessful, but the Panthers didn’t need it, boasting a 46-7 lead.
The Knights returned to the field for a final drive but were sabotaged by a Dakota Earnest sack before time ran out on the clock.
Okemah continues conference play with a road contest on Friday at 7 p.m. against the Holdenville Wolverines.