MINCO — While its explosive offense did its thing, a bend but don’t break defense was the key to Afton’s 30-6 win over Minco here Friday, Nov. 24.
Class A’s top ranked team allowed 178 yards in total offense — only 64 in the second half — in a quarterfinal game against a Minco offense that had generated 342 points on the season.
The Eagles stuck with their standard 4-4 stack defense that features nine seniors.
“They really took charge,” Afton defensive coordinator Jimmy Hudson said. “The big thing that we really had talked about all week long was nobody in the state thought our defense was as good as their defense — Minco had the best defense and shut everybody down. Some of that stuff is good bulletin board material.
“One of their defensive linemen said ‘you can’t run the ball on us. We will shut you down; you don’t run on Minco.’ I think we showed who the best defense in the state.”
Afton (12-0) advances to the semifinals for the second straight year. It will face Thomas at 7 p.m. Friday at Cushing.
The Terriers advanced with a 37-36 victory over Morrison.
Minco scored on the fifth play of its first offensive series.
Things went south from there as the Bulldogs had two fumbles, two interceptions, three punts and a bad snap on another that resulted in a 17-yard loss and set up Afton’s first touchdown.
Minco also turned the balls over on downs twice.
“Definitely in the first half, the offense struggled and the defense kept things in check, especially with them getting the onside kick,” Afton head coach Zach Gardner said. “We rallied with the defense. The big plays we had carried over to the defensive side of the ball.”
Conversely, the Eagles were 1-for-6 on their possessions in a fast-paced first two quarters — there were only eight pass attempts in 64 snaps — then scored on their first three series in the second half to break the game open.
The Eagles were content to play smash mouth football over the final two quarters, attempting only one pass in 30 snaps.
Amos, who ran the ball on 40 of Afton’s 53 rushing plays, scored on runs of 20, 49 and 1 yard.
He finished with 279 yards.
Julian ran the ball nine times and netted 49 yards. He chipped in with an 11-yard score.
On the night, Amos completed two of the six total passes he put up.
Julian caught one for 22 yards and Brett Hollon snagged the other, netting 16 yards.
“We’re very humbled by the experience of getting a chance to redeem ourselves as far as getting to play in that game again,” Gardner said.
The only blemish over the past two seasons was a 43-15 loss to Hominy in the 2016 semifinals at Owasso.
“I am very proud,” Gardner said. “This senior group is very deserving.”