Panthers double up Konawa, 64-32
By Justin Scrimshire
ONL Sports Reporter
A recent ruling from the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association declared that all schools wishing to participate in the post season would be allowed to do so after COVID-19 has introduced several interruptions in the 2020 football season. With that announcement, teams across the state, regardless of their record, are perfecting their game plan with hopes of playoff success.
Okemah had already seemed primed for a solid playoff run and those odds looked even better after last Friday night with the return of Kaiden Bear into the lineup, giving the Panthers their first real look at a full and healthy squad since the beginning of the season. The Panthers seized on that opportunity to introduce a new offensive wrinkle and used it to dismantle the Konawa Tigers 64-32.
Okemah began the game on offense and Mikey Cruz set the tempo early with an 18-yard dash into Tiger territory on first down. Makhan Harjo punched the ball into the end zone a few plays later for Okemah’s first points of the night. The two-point conversion was no good and the score remained 6-0.
The Panthers tried to catch Konawa off with an onside kick but the Tigers recovered and began their drive around midfield. It was a short-lived series of plays however after a sack from Korbyn Vansant was followed up with an interception from Kurtis Wilson.
Starting on the Panther 5-yard line after the interception, Okemah moved the ball efficiently with rushing attempts from Mikey Cruz, Makhan Harjo and Colton Parish. The drive was capped off by a 27-yard passing touchdown between Kurtis Wilson and Mason Cruz. The two-point conversion failed and the score remained 12-0.
Konawa returned to the field but turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert for a first down. Okemah’s offense maintained possession of the ball into the second quarter, keeping the ball on the ground every play during the drive with Mikey Cruz finding the end zone on a 6-yard rushing attempt. The two-point conversion was successful and Okemah enjoyed a 20-0 lead.
Konawa responded with their first scoring drive of the game. The Tigers failed to convert their two-point attempt but the lead had been cut 20-6. Okemah retaliated immediately as Mikey Cruz took it to the house on the first play of the drive for a 45-yard rushing touchdown. The two-point conversion failed but Okemah had bounced back out to a 26-6 lead.
The following Tiger drive resulted in a quick punt and Okemah took the field with a new look as Kaiden Bear lined up at quarterback for the first time this season, keeping the ball for a 26-yard quarterback keeper on the very first play. That momentum was stalled a few plays later on a fumble that was recovered by Konawa.
The Tigers returned the favor by also fumbling the ball and Kurtis Wilson recovered it for the Panthers. The game went into halftime a short time later with the score remaining 26-6.
The third quarter turned into a scoring frenzy. Konawa opened up the second half with a scoring drive but their two-point conversion failed and the score remained 26-12. The Panthers responded in five plays, culminating on a 5-yard burst into the end zone from Mikey Cruz. The successful two-point conversion made it a 34-12 game.
Konawa punched back by returning the following kickoff all the way to the end zone for a touchdown. Their two-point conversion was not successful and the score remained 34-18. Okemah countered again in just two plays as Mikey Cruz ran for a 41-yard rushing touchdown and Okemah padded the score with a successful two-point conversion, giving the Panthers a 42-18 lead.
Konawa’s next drive resulted in a turnover on downs and Okemah returned on offense, promptly scoring with a 42-yard passing touchdown from Kurtis Wilson to Kaiden Bear. The two-point conversion was successful and Okemah led 50-18.
The Tigers put together a complete drive on their next possession and scored to close out the third quarter. The successful two-point conversion made the score 50-26. However, Okemah continued to pour it on as Mikey Cruz burst through the line on the Panther drive for a 43-yard rushing touchdown. The two-point conversion was successful and Okemah led 58-26.
Refusing to go away quietly, Konawa put together their final scoring drive of the night. Their two-point conversion failed and they continued to trail 58-32. The Panthers couldn’t let that score go unanswered and did so in just five plays, with an 11-yard passing touchdown from Kurtis Wilson to Tyler Campbell. The two-point conversion was successful and Okemah led 64-3.
That would be the score for the remainder of the night as the referees began a running clock. Konawa had a drive interrupted by an interception from Kaiden Bear and the clock finally relinquished the victory for the Panthers.
Okemah will return to the Pecan Bowl for their final home game of the regular season. The Panthers are scheduled to host the Mounds Golden Eagles on Friday, October 30th with the game set to begin at 7 p.m.