TALIHINA - A 19-yard pass from Canaan Sherrell to Chase Staneart with 1:09 left in the game provided just enough for the Colcord Hornets to upset previously-undefeated Talihina 29-28 in Friday night’s second round playoff game.
With the win, Colcord (10-2) advances to the quarterfinals, where they will host Washington next Friday. It’s the Hornets fourth trip to the quarterfinals since 1998.
“What a game,” Colcord head coach Bud Simmons said. “To go against an undefeated, number-three ranked team, that’s a big win for us.”
Trailing 28-23, the Hornets took over possession at their own 19 with 5:26 left in the game. After five runs by Chris Aguilar and one by Sherrell advanced the ball to the 41, Sherrell found Staneart and Zach Riley for back-to-back completions covering 40 yards to the Golden Tiger 19. Two plays later, Sherrell found Staneart with a perfectly-lofted ball over the middle and over a Talihina defender for the touchdown to put Colcord in the lead.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he made a big play tonight,” Simmons said of Staneart. “He’s quietly been playing well for us and did again tonight.”
But the Golden Tigers (11-1) would have one last gasp. A 35-yard kickoff return by quarterback Jordan Eagleroad put the ball at the Colcord 45. Eaglewood then scrambled for 12 and found Austin Lawson with a 13-yard pass to put the ball at the 20.
Eaglewood then converted a fourth-and-five with an eight-yard run to the Hornet 7. But after spiking the ball to stop the clock with 12 seconds to play, Eaglewood was sacked by Colcord lineman Austin DeMoss. The resulting fumble was recovered by Cody Smith, ending Talihina’s last chance and sealing a Colcord win.
But early on it was Eaglewood and the Golden Tigers who came out swinging. After Colcord turned the ball over on their opening possession, Eaglewood capped a five-play drive with a 30-yard run to the endzone.
After the Hornets moved to the Talihina 36 on their next possession, Lawson stepped in front of Sherrell’s deep pass over the middle, returning it 20 yards to the 27.
On the ensuing drive Eaglewood would convert a third-and-18 with a 26-yard pass to Chris Capsey followed by a 26-yard run by Kane Owens. Five plays later Eaglewood would find Lawson for a 31-yard touchdown that put the Golden Tigers up 14-0.
Colcord would come back with a 12-play, 68-yard drive highlighted by Sherrell’s 32-yard pass to Austin Gilbert on a third-and-13. Sherrell would sneak in from the one on fourth down to cut Talihina’s lead in half with nine minutes left in the second quarter.
The Hornets weren’t done. After a three-and-out by the Golden Tigers, Sherrell and Aguilar would lead the Hornets back down the field, with Aguilar running it in from six yards out. After a roughing the kicker call on the extra point, Aguilar ran in the two-point conversion to give Colcord their first lead of the night.
“Honestly, I think Talihina relaxed a little bit [in the second quarter],” Simmons said. “We kind of caught our breath. I think we got our feet under us. The second quarter we realized we could play with these guys. We just stuck to our game plan.”
Aguilar would strike again on the Hornets’ next possession. After a second consecutive three-and-out by Talihina, Aguilar cut through the middle of the defense for a 65-yard touchdown. Aguilar would add the two-point conversion for a 23-14 halftime lead.
Eaglewood and Talihina would strike back beginning with their first possession of the third quarter, going 54 yards in seven plays to cut the lead to 23-20.
The Golden Tigers would then take the lead on their longest drive of the night. After stopping the Hornets on fourth down, Talihina took over on their own seven. Eaglewood found Capsey for 28 yards on the first play of the possession, and a fake punt on fourth down would keep the drive alive. Two 15-yard penalties against Colcord, one for roughing the passer and the other for pass interference, would keep the drive going. With just under 11 minutes left in the game, Eaglewood would find Lawson for a 17-yard touchdown pass to put Talihina in front 28-23.
But after stopping the Golden Tigers on fourth down on their own 19, the Hornets were able to put together a touchdown drive to save their season.
“We have an amazing quarterback,” Staneart said. “He can put the ball anywhere, anyday.”
“Our defense came up big tonight,” Simmons said. “They [Talihina] are so explosive. [Defensive coordinator Henry] Janes decided let’s stay hooked on Eaglewood, let’s key on him. He’s the guy that makes plays for them and they keep the ball in his hands and we were able to get some stops for losses.”
With the win the Hornets advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005 when they lost to Comanche. Colcord will host Washington, a 35-0 winner over Crooked Oak, in next week’s quarterfinals.