By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
LOCUST GROVE – The Legion of Doom defense, moved out of Muskogee with Matt Hennesy, couldn’t solve Hilldale quarterback Chandler Puckett in the first half.
In the end, the Locust Grove version just needed to on one last drive, sacking Puckett two times and then when Puckett’s fourth-down pass with under a minute fell short of Bradley Campbell near the Locust Grove 30, the power of District 3A-7 shifted with the Pirates’ 42-41 win over the Hornets here Thursday night.
Locust Grove, ranked 10th in Class 3A entering the game, moved to 7-0 and 4-0 in 3A-7. Hilldale, which plays Keys at home next Friday, is 5-2 and 3-1.
Running back Cory Rhode, who blistered the Hilldale defense for 216 yards on 27 carries, gave the Pirates a go-ahead touchdown, his fourth of the night, with 2:47 to play on an 8-yard run. It was capped with the decisive two-point conversion on Mason Fine's toss to Trevor Taylor.
That left it to Puckett, whose Johnny Football imitation in the first half (164 yards rushing on 10 carries, 184 yards passing) had the Hornets’ offense on his back.
In the end, the Pirates front converged on him, knocking the breath out of him just as he released the ball on a third-and-10 pass at his own 35. After being attended to, Campbell had to move from receiver to quarterback. He took the snap out of the pistol and ran 15 yards to keep the drive alive.
Puckett returned, but was sacked twice to start the drive. After a 3-yard pickup by Seth Reheard, Puckett’s pass to Campbell missed, and the Pirates ran the clock out.
It was a game that saw Hilldale flagged six times for 75 yards. Locust Grove had two for 25. Some of Hilldale’s wiped out touchdown plays.
“That was the biggest joke I’ve seen in my life,” Kirkhart said. “There is no accountability for officials like that who can be as bad as that crew and still get to officiate high school football. If I coached like they officiated I would get fired. It’s hard to explain to our players.”
When asked, Hennesy, who left Muskogee High School in 2010 for Locust Grove, had a different opinion.
“With all their personal fouls I was proud our guys kept their cool. They don’t play like that and in the end that’s why they won the game,” he said.
Puckett found some other issues.
“You can say anything you want about the calls but we still beat ourselves,” Puckett said. “Three fumbles, one on a touchdown and the other two inside the 30 didn’t help us.”
While the penalties impacted drives, the fumbles definitely had their part.
Two that hurt the most were when Hilldale running back Hunter Woods, held to two yards on three first-half carries after four consecutive 100-yard rushing games, was stripped of the ball by Cain Witt and Trevor Taylor scooped it and took it 26 yards to the house, giving the Pirates a 20-14 lead in the first half.
Hilldale would answer with three TDs to close the half, but started the second half with a drive that ended on a Campbell fumble on a fourth-and-10 pass from the 33. Campbell fumbled at the 8. A second consecutive fumbled drive ended with Seth Reheard losing the ball at the Locust Grove 28.
Puckett, who celebrated a birthday Thursday, torched the Pirates on runs around the edge in the first half and finished with 254 yards passing and 187 rushing. Only 23 of those yards came after the half as Locust Grove’s containment began to assert itself in the second half before Puckett found the holes up the middle. Two runs for 30 yards on a drive that started at the Pirates 48 were followed by an 18-yard toss to Campbell in the corner of the end zone for a 41-34 lead with 7:24 to play.
Campbell had 8 catches for 164 yards and two TDs, and depending on the view of the head coach, had one that was just out of bounds in the second half. Campbell also protested it, but wasn’t found for comment after the contest.
“We took away what we wanted to but like (Puckett) did last year, he found what could hurt us and we made some adjustments. Our adjustments worked,” Hennesy said. “Those two (Puckett and Campbell) are great players and we knew that. But our kids fought them for four quarters.”
LOCUST GROVE 42, HILLDALE 41
Hilldale 14 20 0 7–41
Locust Grove 8 12 14 8–42
HHS: Chandler Puckett 59 run (Puckett run), 8:55.
LGHS: Cory Rhode 3 run (Mcintire pass from Fine),4:34.
HHS: Seth Reheard 1 run (pass failed), :40.
LGHS: Rhode 63 run (pass failed), 11:49.
LGHS: Trevor Taylor 26 fumble recovery, return (pass failed), 11:29.
HHS: Bradley Campbell 37 pass from Puckett (Puckett kick), 10:21.
HHS: C.J. Hunnicutt 58 pass from Puckett (Puckett kick), 6:52.
HHS: Hunter Olsen 6 pass from Puckett (kick blocked), 3:14.
LGHS: Traden Sokoloski 5 pass from Fine (Sokoloski pass from Fine), 8:53.
LGHS: Rhode 45 run (run failed), 1:44.
HHS: Campbell 18 pass from Puckett (Puckett kick), 7:24.
LGHS: Rhode 8 run (Trevor Taylor pass from Fine), 2:47.
First Downs 20 22
Rushes-Yards 20-211 47-250
Passing Yards 254 167
Passes C-A-I 13-28-0 21-34-0
Punts-Avg. 1-34 2-28
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-75 2-25
Passing: Hilldale, Puckett, 13-28-254 (4 TD). Locust Grove, Fine, 21-34-167 (TD).
Rushing: Hilldale, Puckett, 17-187 (TD). Locust Grove, Rhode, 27-216 (4 TD)
Receiving: Hilldale, Campbell 8-164 (2 TD). Locust Grove, McIntire, 8-68.