Special to the Grove Sun
Special to the Grove Sun
OAKS-After a dominating first half, the Oaks Warriors got a taste of their own medicine in the second Friday night at Tucker Field. But thanks to the last 100 of Jeremiah ‘Jet’ Snell’s 250 total rushing yards in the waning moments of the game and a pair of defensive gems, Oaks pulled off a thrilling 26-20 district homecoming victory.
The Warriors won the coin toss and chose to receive the opening kickoff. Starting the game’s opening possession on their own 36, the home team’s offense churned out an 11-play drive that moved the markers four times. On the heels of Shadoe Miller’s 15-yard grab of Tanner Philpot’s pass to the four yard line, Snell put Oaks on the scoreboard with his four-yard scoring plunge. The two point conversion pass attempt failed, for a 6-0 score.
The Mustang offense managed a first down on their initial offensive series when Wesleyan quarterback Braden Brown teamed up with Matt Miller for a 15-yard gain. But on a subsequent fourth and 10, the visitors gambled and lost. Mustang Daniel Deal got behind the Warrior secondary, where Brown overthrew the toss and the sure six.
Taking over on downs, Snell picked up a 12-yard gain to cross midfield. But Oaks gave the ball back when Philpot’s pass attempt to Koty Johnson was intercepted on the Mustang 22.
Following Brown’s 21-yard keeper, Wesleyan went to their big fullback Brady Koster (15 carries for 70 yards), who rumbled for back-to-back-to-back first downs. With consecutive carries totaling 55 yards, Koster had his team knocking on the door from the eight yard line. But the Mustang offense put the ball on the ground and Oaks’s defensive end Tevin Fields pounced on it.
The teams exchanged possessions to burn off the remainder of the first and almost half of the second quarter. But on a second and 12 to go, Snell broke off a 68-yard sprint down the far sideline for his second touchdown of the half. And with 6:51 left in the half, Philpot’s two-point pass to Johnson was good for the 14-0 lead.
Wesleyan successfully covered the ensuing onside kick to give their offense the ball on the 50. The visitors’ drive came to a quick end however; when Snell intercepted Brown’s third and long pass attempt and returned it to the 40. The Warrior offensive line looked to be beating down their white clad counterparts, as Oaks used three different runners to move the sticks three more times. And on a first and 10 from the Mustang 27, with all the defenses attention on Snell, Miller took the ball from the other side and scored with 1:55 to play. The two point conversion was no good, but the home team looked to be in control 20-0.
With the start of the second half, the Mustangs needed to make something happen quickly. And much to the chagrin of the Warrior sideline, the visitors did just that. Following a good return of the second half kick to near midfield, Wesleyan’s Micah Stroud (21 carries for 141 yards) took the second snap from scrimmage and stormed 50 yards for the visitor’s first touchdown. The ensuing two point pass failed, but the Mustangs were on the board with only 49 seconds off the second half clock.
The Oaks offense went three and out on their next series and punted the ball away. Taking control on their own 45, Wesleyan needed only nine snaps to move the chains four times And at the 6:38 mark of the third, Koster carried the ball for a one-yard TD run. With the missed two point conversion, the visitors had suddenly moved to within eight of the home team.
Once again the Warriors went three and out on offense and punted the ball. The Mustangs took control on their 32, where a Brown to Koster catch and a Koster 10-yard gallop had them across midfield. And with scarcely three minutes off the clock since their last score, Wesleyan did it again. This time, Brown connected with Koster for the 47-yard pass, catch and run to the goal line. Brown tied things up at 20 when he called his own number for the successful two-point run. The teams exchanged possessions to finish the third quarter.
The final period commenced with the Oaks defense forcing the Mustangs to relinquish the football on downs on the home 35. But on the first play of the new series, Deal intercepted the Warrior pass attempt on the 45. Staying almost exclusively on the ground, Wesleyan snapped the ball 10 times to get inside the Oaks 10. Facing a fourth and goal, the Mustang offense was stopped by the Warrior interior on the two.
And Oaks answered with their only first down of the second half, when Snell broke through the defensive middle, juked to the right and broke across the grain, to score a spectacular 96-yard touchdown. The conversion attempt failed, but; the Warriors were back on top by a 26-20 margin.
Following Eddie Loco’s kickoff, the visitors took control on the 40 with 5:21 to play. With a pair of first downs, the Mustangs appeared to be on another march. On a third and six to go on the Warrior 39, linebacker Bon Settlemyer dumped Brown for a 10-yard loss. Facing a fourth and long, Wesleyan was force to the air. And with under two minutes to play, Koty Johnson put things away for his team when he intercepted Brown’s pass attempt to Stroud. With the Mustangs out of timeouts, the Warriors were able to burn the remainder of the game clock and hold on for the six-point district win.
Oaks travels to Depew to take on the Hornets as district play continues on Friday.