It took the better part of three quarters for the Kansas to pull away from Claremore at Dee Neel Field Thursday night. But once the interior Comet line decided to take control of the line of scrimmage, there was little doubt as to the game’s eventual 31-14 outcome.
And while the Kansas offense took a while to come to life, the Comet defense pretty much kept their opposition in check, holding them to an anemic -65 yards total offense on the night.
Claremore JV received the opening kickoff and returned the ball to the 34-yard line. Two snaps later, the Kansas defense separated the Zebra runner from the football, where senior defensive tackle Kaleb Johnston recovered it to give his team a first and ten on the 25.
The Comets were able to move the stakes once before relinquishing the ball on downs deep in Claremore JV territory.
As would be the case for the remainder of the game, Kansas’s senior nose guard Kelsey Wells harassed the Zebra JV center into the first of several snaps that either rolled to the visiting quarterback or flew over his head. And as a result of one of those lofted snaps, Claremore’s JV offense went backwards and was forced to punt. The ensuing kick traveled only 15 yards but the Comets weren’t able to move the ball either.
Kansas got its first big break when the Zebra JV return man muffed the punt and the Comets pounced on it inside the 20. Following an unnecessary roughness flag, Kansas had another first and goal, this time on the eight.
The hometown offense shot themselves in the foot with a false start and a busted play and were faced with a fourth down choice. The Comets opted for a field goal try and senior Jonathan Williams nailed the attempt from 22 yards away.
The Kansas kicker would also go a perfect four for four in his game’s extra point kicks.
The opening quarter came to a conclusion with another snap over the Claremore JV signal caller’s head, followed by a punt.
Taking over the ball near midfield, the Comets looked to be on the march when Wade Lewis broke off a 27 yard run to inside the enemy 20. But Kansas’s momentum was disrupted again when the play was called back for a holding penalty. The Comets were unable to reestablish the drive and had to punt.
And on the JV Claremore’s first pass attempt Kansas’s Cody Bright intercepted the ball on the 45. On the strength of an 11-yard run by Heath Asher and a 10 yard gain by Dallas Cheek, the Comets had a first down on the Zebra JV 15. And Cheek did the honors on a 15-yard TD run with 6:56 to play in the half. Williams got the PAT in addition to executing a touchdown saving tackle on his subsequent kickoff, assuring the Comets of a 10-0 halftime lead.
Bright returned the second half kickoff for 15 yards, where his team set up their offense on their own 40. And on the first snap of the half, JV Claremore’s Kyle Bales stepped between the Comet passer and receiver for an interception and a 40 yard defensive TD. The two-point attempt failed, but the JV Zebras were on the board 14-6.
After the kickoff, Kansas looked to be on the move until Bales snatched a fumble on the Comet 43 and sprinted to the end zone, for another defensive score that gave the JV visitors their first and last lead of the game.
Following an exchange of possessions, the Kansas offensive line took over control of the contest, where they strung together three consecutive first downs in route to a six play, 58 yard drive that culminated in Cheek’s eight yard touchdown run, to regain the lead.
And on the kick that followed, the Comet’s Justin Wallace and Williams, again saved a potential big Zebra return.
Thanks to another bad snap and a six-yard sack by Wells, the visitors punted again.
The Comets answered by grinding out an eight-play scoring drive that ended with a one yard TD plunge by Wade Lewis with four minutes remaining in the third.
Another three and out Claremore JV offensive series gave the ball back to Kansas near midfield. And the Comets churned out an eight play drive that featured a 15-yard gain and 21-yard TD run by Cody Bright to finalize the 31-14 Comet win.
Kansas (2-0) will host the NOAH (Northeast Oklahoma Association of Home School) Jaguars at Dee Neel Field Friday at 7:30.