WAGONER- For over two and a half quarters the Grove Ridgerunners held Wagoner star quarterback Prince McJunkins in check, and had Friday night's game with the Bulldogs in hand.
But McJunkins changed all that by rallying the Bulldogs with three touchdowns on three straight possessions to squeeze out a 30-29 win.
What began as a defensive struggle through much of the first half turned into a shootout as the two teams traded touchdowns throughout the final two quarters.
But early on, it was the Ridgrunner defense that dominated, not only keeping McJunkins and a talented Wagoner offense in check, but also scoring the game's first points when Brody Scott returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown to give GHS a 7-0 lead with 7:40 left in the half.
But a personal foul on the Ridgerunners resulted in great field position for Wagoner and Kevin Peterson took advantage, scampering 34 yards for a touchdown less than a minute later to tie the score.
Grove used a win in the battle of field position to get their second touchdown of the night. After a Bobby Harris punt pinned the Bulldogs at their own six yard line, the Ridgerunner defense pushed WHS back to the one. And after a 10-yard punt return by Buck Maples, Grove had the ball on the Wagoner 20 yard line.
Four plays later quarterback Adam Steffenson found Scott over the middle for an eight-yard score to make it 14-7 at the half.
The two teams combined for just 135 yards and six first downs in the first half but there were offensive fireworks a plenty in the second half.
The Ridgerunners got things going on their second possession of the third quarter. Starting at their own 42, Grove relied on a series of Maples runs and got a 15-yard pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs to move inside the 20. After being stopped on the seven yard line with 4:05 left in the quarter, the Ridgerunners lined up for an apparent field goal attempt by Anthony Krause.
But a bobbled snap left Steffenson scrambling with the ball, eluding the Wagoner defense for a touchdown run. After another botched snap on the extra point, Steffenson found Tyler Crossley in the end zone for two points and a 22-7 GHS lead.
Wagoner struck back on their ensuing possession. Peterson ran for 18 yards, and McJunkins, who struggled throwing the ball up to that point, completed two consecutive passes covering 37 yards and moving the ball to the Ridgerunner 15.
From there Peterson ran it in for the score and McJunkins danced his way in for the two-point conversion to make it 22-15.
With all the momentum on the Bulldog side, the Ridgerunners quietly went back to work, moving the ball methodically down the field. Steffenson found Jerrod Leach with a 17-yard completion and Maples ripped off a 20-yard run to move the ball inside the 20. Steffenson and Maples ran the ball for six consecutive plays before Leach dove in from two yards out for another touchdown with 7:54 left in the game.
But the Bulldogs refused to quit. McJunkins completed passes of 8, 15 and 27 yards to move the ball inside the Grove five before scoring on a three-yard run with 5:42 left. McJunkins then ran in his second consecutive two-point conversion to make it 29-23.
GHS was then held to a three and out, and after a low snap on the punt, Harris was forced to scramble and throw incomplete, giving Wagoner the ball at the Grove 32.
After three plays the Bulldogs faced a fourth and 12 at the 34 with 2:45 left. That's when McJunkins pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Scrambling to his right away from the Grove pass rush, McJunkins found Malcom Love in the right corner of the endzone for a 34-yard touchdown. The extra point gave Wagoner a 30-29 lead.
The Ridgerunners had one more shot. Steffenson found Scott for a 37-yard gain, and after a another first down pass moved the ball to the Wagoner 21, it appeared Grove might pull off its own comeback.
But Peterson jumped in front of Steffenson's next pass in the end zone, making the interception with just over a minute left to seal the win.
McJunkins finished with 139 yards in the air, with Love catching four passes for 64 yards. Peterson finished with 60 yards on eight carries.
Maples led the Ridgerunner offense with 81 yards on 21 carries.
Now 2-1 the Ridgerunners will open district play next week when they travel to Pryor to take on the Tigers.
Passing 94 139
Rushing 36-113 33-106
Total 207 245
First Downs 11 8
Pen. 9-70 10-70
C-A-I 7-24-2 10-16-1
Turns. 2 ints 2 (1 int, 1 fum)
T.O.P. 23:32 24:28
Passing- GHS: Steffenson 7-22-94yds-2int-1TD. Harris 0-1. Maples 0-1. WHS: McJunkins 10-16-139yds-1int-1TD.
Rushing- GHS: Maples 21-81. Steffenson 7-32. Phillips 1-4. Leach 2-(-4). WHS: Applegate 11-48. Peterson 8-60. McJunkins 12-1. #6 1-(-3).
Receiving- GHS: Scott 2-45. Leach 3-22. Phillips 1-18. WHS: Love 4-64. #6 2-35. #2 3-31. Peterson 1-7.
7:40 GHS- Brody Scott 35-yd fumble return (Krause kick) 7-0 GHS.
6:38 WHS- Kevin Peterson 34-yd run (Tristan Mendoza kick) 7-7.
:23 GHS- Scott 8-yd pass from Steffenson (Krause kick) 14-7 GHS.
4:05 GHS- Steffenson 7-yd run (Tyler Crossley pass from Steffenson). 22-7 GHS.
1:56 WHS- Peterson 15-yd run (McJunkins run) 22-15 GHS.
7:54 GHS- Jerrod Leach 2-yd run (Krause kick) 29-15 GHS.
5:42 WHS- McJunkins 3-yd run (McJunkins run) 29-23 GHS.
2:45 WHS- Malcom Love 34-yd pass from McJunkins (Mendoza kick) 30-29 WHS.