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Panthers shut out, 15-0

Panthers shut out, 15-0
By Justin Scrimshire
ONL Sports Reporter
The 2019 Okemah football season has been one for the highlight reel when it comes to offensive production. That wasn’t the case however against the Meeker Bulldogs where the Panthers were uncharacteristically out of rhythm and flat. One might be inclined to blame it on a short week, as schools had dismissed for fall break and the Panthers took the field on a Thursday, interrupting the regular routine of Friday night lights.
It’s also hard to look past the loss of Wacey Williams, not only for the game, but the remainder of the season after a significant collarbone injury took him out early in the first quarter.  Wacey’s athleticism and leadership has been a major contributing factor to the dynamic offense that has lit up the scoreboard this year and the impact of his absence was felt immediately.
All factors aside, the Panthers failed to respond and were handed their first loss in district play. The defense did a great job of keeping the score close, but the offense stumbled and was unable to capitalize on their opportunities.
With two road trips and one home game remaining on the schedule, Okemah still has time to secure their playoff berth and plug in new components to fire the offense back up.
Meeker started the game by receiving the ball at their own 35-yard line. A quick first down was followed by huge loss of yards from a wild snap. Facing a fourth and 21, the Bulldogs punted.
Okemah took over at their own 38-yard line but a quick three and out put the ball back into the Bulldogs possession.
Meeker began on their own 30-yard line and advanced into Panther territory before a tackle for a loss of yards from Jesse Wingate stalled the Bulldog momentum and they turned the ball over on downs at the Okemah 38-yard line.
The following Panther drive was aided by two penalties. A horse collar against Makhan Harjo gave the Okemah a first down inside Bulldog territory at the 48-yard line. Mikey Cruz followed that up with a 14 yard run to the 34-yard line. A pass interference call gave the Panthers a first and ten at the 19-yard line.
Okemah wasn’t able to advance beyond that, turning the ball over on downs. Wacey Williams was injured on the final play of this drive, diving for a pass in the endzone.
Meeker took over at the Okemah 19-yard line and kept possession into the second quarter. They continued to drive the field and were able to score on a QB keeper from the 6-yard line. Their two-point conversion failed and the score stood 6-0.
Okemah received the kick and started the drive on their 40-yard line. Holding against Meeker put the Panthers at midfield and a pass from Kurtis Wilson to Kaiden Bear took the Panthers down to the 23-yard line. An incomplete pass on fourth down turned the ball over shortly thereafter.
The Bulldogs took possession of the ball but quickly threw an interception to Makhan Harjo at midfield and the Panther offense returned to the field.
Okemah once again made it to Meeker’s 23-yard line on runs from Makhan Harjo and Mikey Cruz but were unable to score and turned the ball over on downs.
The Panther defense held strong, forcing another three and out against Meeker and Kaiden Bear returned the punt to the Bulldog 49-yard line.
Okemah’s offensive drive was interrupted by an interception and Meeker’s offense held the ball until halftime, going in to the locker room with a 6-0 lead.
The Panthers received the kick to start the second half and Kaiden Bear returned the ball the Okemah 43-yard line. The Panthers were unable to manage a first down after a holding forced a long yardage situation and they turned the ball over on downs.
Meeker took over inside Okemah territory at the 44-yard line and advanced inside the 10-yard line before settling for a field goal and a 9-0 lead.
Landon Dennis returned the following kickoff to the Panther 22-yard line but a fumble on first down handed the ball back to the Bulldogs.
Meeker took advantage of the short field and scored on a rushing touchdown. The extra point was blocked but the Bulldogs extended their lead 15-0 with 1:28 left in the third quarter.
Neither offense was able to score for the remainder of the game and Meeker walked away with the win, 15-0.
The 4-3 Panthers travel to Chandler on Friday, October 25 for a 7 p.m. contest against the 3-4 Lions.

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