Lights dim on Panthers season
By Justin Scrimshire
ONL Sports Reporter
Okemah faced their toughest opponent yet when Jones pulled into the Pecan Bowl with their 7-1 record. The Longhorns boast enough depth to allow their athletes to play only one side of the ball while the Panthers leave everything they have on the field playing both offense and defense.
The final home game for this year’s seniors was memorable for a different reason however as an opportunistic citywide power outage stopped the game early during the third quarter with Jones holding a commanding 35-6 lead and handing the Panthers their third consecutive loss.
The Panthers must rebound quickly as they head to Kellyville this week for the final game of the season and one last shot at securing a playoff berth.
Jones won the toss and elected to receive the ball first. Okemah kicked and Jones started at their 28-yard line. The Longhorns effectively chewed up the clock on a long scoring drive that left 6:04 in the first quarter and an early 7-0 lead.
Okemah’s offense took the field after Mikey Cruz returned the kick to the Panther 32-yard line. Kurtis Wilson connected to JJ Magness for a first down at the Longhorn 49-yard line but a bad snap on third down put the Panthers in a deep hole and they were forced to punt the ball away.
Jones offense returned to the field and again a long scoring drive took the game into the second quarter and stretched their lead, 15-0.
Landon Dennis returned the ensuing kickoff to the Panther 22-yard line and Okemah found some initial success running the ball. Makhan Harjo rushed for an eight-yard gain and Mikey Cruz followed that up with a short run for a first down. Kurtis Wilson also completed a short pass to Makhan Harjo before the drive stalled and the Panthers punted the ball.
Jones took over at their 47-yard line and for the third consecutive drive, marched down the field for a touchdown. A successful two-point conversion extended their lead, 23-0.
Kaiden Bear returned the Longhorn kick for a short gain and Okemah started at their 30-yard line. Makhan Harjo ran for a five-yard gain, but the Panthers were unable to gain a first down and punted back to Jones.
Jones started their drive at the Panther 47-yard line and needed only five passing plays to score again. The two-point conversion failed and the Longhorns led 29-0 with just over a minute left in the first half. Okemah ran out the clock to take the game into halftime.
The Panthers received the ball to open up the second half and Colton Parish returned the kick to Okemah’s 39-yard line. Makhan Harjo started the drive with a pair of short yardage rushes, joined by another short run from Mikey Cruz that led to a fourth and one. Harjo ran the ball again and gained the first down at midfield. On the following play, Kurtis Wilson connected with Landon Dennis through the air and Dennis ran it to the house for the Panthers first touchdown of the night. The two-point conversion failed and the score held 6-29.
Jones responded quickly with a quarterback keeper that resulted in a Longhorn touchdown on their very first play of the drive. The extra kick was no good and the score remained 35-6.
In the ensuing Panther drive, Okemah experienced a citywide electric outage that brought the game to an abrupt halt. After a few minute delay, it seemed fairly obvious that the lights would not be turned back on anytime soon and the game was called.
The Panthers travel to Kellyville on Friday, November 8th to face the Ponies for the final game of the 2019 season. With a 3-3-district record, Okemah looks to win this contest for a shot at a playoff berth.