Panthers return to the win column and playoffs
By Justin Scrimshire
ONL Sports Reporter
Prior to Friday night’s season finale against the Kellyville Ponies, Okemah knew they were locked into a postseason matchup against the Chisholm Longhorns thanks to their early success in district play.
With a playoff game secured, Okemah played for pride and the opportunity to find their mojo once again after a few disappointing weeks. It was a return to midseason form for the Panthers as they dominated Kellyville from the opening kickoff through the final buzzer, wrapping up the regular season with a 42-8 victory.
The Panthers kicked off to Kellyville to start the game but surprised the Ponies with an onside kick. Landon Dowell jumped on the tumbling ball and sent the Panther offense onto the field.
Makhan Harjo started the drive with a short run before Kurtis Wilson connected to Kaiden Bear for a sixteen-yard gain. Mikey Cruz moved the chains again with a run to the thirteen-yard line and Landon Dennis followed that up with a run into the end zone. The two-point conversion was successful and Okemah had an early 8-0 lead.
Kellyville returned the ensuing kickoff to their 49-yard line but two illegal procedures against the Ponies killed their drive and Okemah took over after a turnover on downs.
Kurtis Wilson opened the drive with a pass to Landon Dennis for a first down at the Pony twenty-yard line. Tyler Campbell then took the ball on a handoff and literally carried the entire Kellyville defense down to the one-yard line. A few plays later, Kurtis Wilson burst into the end zone for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but Okemah had extended their lead, 14-0.
Kellyville returned the kick to midfield and managed to make their way to the Panther 17-yard line before Korbyn Vansant made a tackle for a six-yard loss and Mikey Cruz finished it off with a tackle on fourth down that turned the ball over on downs.
A penalty against Kellyville put the Panthers at their 28-yard line and Landon Dennis rushed it out to midfield. Mikey Cruz gained another six yards and the drive stalled before pass interference against the Ponies gave Okemah a first down at the Pony 35-yard line. Okemah failed to advance the ball any further and punted away.
Kellyville took the field and successfully moved the ball against Okemah and looked to score before an interception by Kurtis Wilson ended the drive and the first quarter.
Tyler Campbell rushed the first two plays of the drive for a fifteen-yard and a five-yard gain. Landon Dennis took the next handoff to the Pony 16-yardlne. Tyler Campbell was handed the ball twice for a fourteen-yard gain and a two-yard rushing touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and the score remained 20-0.
The Ponies took over after the kick but were unable to gain a first down and quickly punted the ball away. Kaiden Bear returned the punt all the way back to the house but a penalty against the Panthers negated the touchdown and gave them a first and ten at their 25-yard line.
Mikey Cruz took the first handoff and gained ten yards. Makhan Harjo rushed the ball out to the Kellyville 48-yard line and another first down. The Panthers fumbled twice on the drive but were able to recover those fumbles before ultimately turning the ball over on an interception.
Kellyville advanced the ball down the field on their ensuing drive and scored their first and only touchdown of the game. The two-point conversion was successful and the score tightened, 20-8.
Okemah took over with 1:31 left in the half and made good use of the clock. Kurtis Wilson found Makhan Harjo on a pass that put the Panthers in Pony territory. Mikey Cruz then moved the chains with a run to the 35-yardline. Kurtis Wilson then completed a pass to Mikey Cruz and followed it up with another pass to Kaiden Bear for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and Okemah went into halftime with a 26-8 lead.
The Panthers received the ball after halftime and Tyler Campbell returned the kick out to midfield. Mikey Cruz rushed to the Pony 28-yard line and a few plays later for another six yards. Facing a fourth down, Kurtis Wilson found Landon Dowell for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but the Panthers extended their lead, 34-8.
From there, neither team had offensive success until late in the fourth quarter. Okemah put together a complete drive that began at the Kellyville 26-yard line and worked their way down the field until Mikey Cruz rushed for a nine-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was successful and the score that remained until the end of the game was 42-8.
The Panthers travel to Chisholm on Friday, November 15th for a postseason matchup against the Longhorns.