Guy Ellis

The Grove Ridgerunners collected their twelfth consecutive win of the season Saturday evening as a late Star Spencer field goal attempt fell short to clinch the 15-14 final in 4A quarterfinal playoff action at Ridgerunner Stadium.

The game was a battle of smothering defenses and crucial special teams play.

“We have played solid all year,” said Ridgerunner Head Coach Dennis Millican. “While our offense gets the glory, our defense and kicking game is right in there.”

The Bobcats erased a 7-0 Grove halftime lead with a twelve-point burst in the third quarter.

Star quarterback Jeremy Harris found the end zone on an eight yard sprint with 5:34 left in the frame. His two-point conversion attempt was turned away by the Grove defenders.

The subsequent Ridgerunner drive saw a three and out spell by the offense. A Grove punt on a fourth and one from their own 34 yard line was fielded by Harris who returned it all the way – 67 yards- to give Spencer a 12-7 lead.

The Ridgerunner rally was sparked by the defensive unit. Star’s opening drive of the fourth quarter saw the team facing a third and twenty from their own seven yard line. The Bobcats put the ball in the air only for Grove senior Dusty Gehrke to record his ninth interception of the season. The Class 4A pick leader returned the ball to the four yard line.

From there Grove QB Corey Davenport rushed in for a touchdown to pair his same effort from the first half. The senior- who finished with 75 yards on 25 carries- scooted in for the two-point play to make it a 15-12 Grove lead with 9:53 left to play.

Star began their ensuing drive at their own 30 yard line and marched 63 yards to settle-in at the Grove seven yard line with a first and goal situation. Along the way the Bobcats fumbled twice- recovering their own miscues- and converted a third and nine spot and a fourth and ten. With just seven yards needed to re-take the lead and four plays to get it done the Bobcats were shut down as the Grove defense proved to be an insurmountable road block.

The Ridgerunner goal line stand placed their offense in a precarious spot. With 3:41 left in the game the unit set up shop at their own four yard line. Unable to make a first down the punting unit came to the field and senior kicker/punter T.J. Griffith gave up an intentional safety after burning some time off the clock.

“Our offense coordinator, Coach (Bret) Bouher, made the recommendation,” Millican said about the safety. “If it worked I was going to take the credit, but if it failed I was going to blame him.”

After the free kick the Bobcat offense returned to the field at their own 40-yard line with 2:02 left in the game.

A holding call followed by a personal foul penalty- both against the Ridgerunners- helped move Star to the Grove 14 yard-line with 1:27 left.

But once again the Ridgerunner “D” stiffened at the right time and faced with a fourth and eight from the 17 yard line Star elected to send the field goal unit onto the field.

A team that had lived by the special teams unit- the earlier punt return for a score- then died by it as the 34-yard Star attempt fell short by what looked to be about eight yards.

“Our defense was in the right spot to make the plays,” Millican said.

The Grove defense had much to crow about Saturday. Besides the two fourth quarter stands and interception, the unit also tamed one of 4A’s strongest rushing offenses in Star.

Quarterback Harris, who came into the game averaging close to 13 yards a carry, was limited to 65 yards on 24 attempts.

Star’s other 1,000 yard back- Darwin Rideau- was never a factor Saturday and third back Terrence Olds only saw 31 ground yards on 12 attempts.

The Star defense proved to be a tough, physical group. The Bobcats recovered three Grove turnovers while allowing only eight first downs and 176 total yards.

The Bobcat season ended with a 9-3 mark and a proud effort. For Grove, preperations now begin for Saturday’s semi-final contest with the Bishop McGuinness Fighting Irish. The Irish (10-2) had a thriller of their own Friday night defeating Sallisaw 33-30 in the closing minutes of that quarterfinal contest.

Grove v Star Spencer

Grove 15, Star 14

@ Ridgerunner Stadium

November 22, 2008

        1    2    3    4    F

GROVE    0    7    0    8    15

STAR        0    0    12    2    14

SEASON RECORDS

GROVE 12-0,    STAR 9-3

TEAM STATS        GRO        STAR

RUSHING YARDS        82        104

PASSING YARDS        94        94

TOTAL YARDS        176        214

TURNOVERS            3        3

PENALTIES            5-42        5-40

FIRST DOWNS        8        12

GROVE INDIVIDUAL STATS

RUSHING        ATT    YDS    TD

Davenport        25    75    2

Bartley        8    12

Gehrke        1    6

Hudgens        1    1

Team (safety)    1    -12

RECEIVING        REC    YDS    TD

Gehrke        6    91

Hudgens        2    3

PASSING        CMP    ATT    YDS    TD    INT

Davenport        8    12    94    0    1

KICKING        PAT    ATT    FG    ATT   

Griffith        1    1    0    1

GROVE SEASON TOTALS

TEAM STATS        GRO        OPP

RUSHING YARDS        2191        1382

PASSING YARDS        1551        1225

TOTAL YARDS        3412        2626

TURNOVERS            11        41

PENALTIES            78-742    53-430

GROVE INDIVIDUAL STATS

RUSHING        ATT    YDS    AVG    TD

Davenport        207    981    4.7    23

Bartley        102    647    6.3    3

Maples        27    217    8.0    3

Gehrke        21    138    6.6    1

Leach        18    132    7.3    2

Spychalski    17    12    1.0    2

Hudgens        14    70    5.0    2

Downes        4    17    4.2    1

Phillips        2    16    8.0

RECEIVING        REC    YDS    AVG    TD

Gehrke        49    752    15.3    8

Hudgens        27    323    12.0    2

Downes        16    242    15.1    2

Miller        8    141    17.6    4

Davenport        3    27    9.0

Maples        3    2    1.0

Carper        2    27    13.5    1

Harding        1    9    9.0

Martin        1    7    7.0

B. Scott        1    5    5.0

Winters        1    4    4.0

Leffel        1    3    3.0

PASSING        CMP    ATT    YDS    TD    INT

Davenport        81    155    1104    12    3

Spychalski    30    60    439    5    2

Griffith        1    1    4

Steffenson    1    1    4

KICKING        PAT    ATT    FG    ATT    L

Griffith        47    51    7    8    36