, Muskogee, OK

November 24, 2013

Checotah’s miscue snuffs out comeback

By Eric Shannon
Phoenix Correspondent

— CHECOTAH — Blame it on the blistering cold weather or blame it on an extra day to think about the game.

But with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter, a fumbled exchange between Checotah Wildcat quarterback Caleb Knight and running back DeShay Bear at the Beggs Demons 8-yard line, ended the Wildcats’ second-half comeback in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.

The Demons were able to run out the remaining time off the clock to secure the win, 34-28 at Ogle Field.

“Oh this a heartbreaking loss, we expected to win but things just didn't go our way tonight,” said Checotah head coach Chad Hendricks. “We had to face some adversity and fight back.”

Adversity was an understatement early on for the Wildcats.

With the Demons on their own 25-yard line, quarterback Tylar Marr found a wide open Shalimere Rentie on their first play of the drive for a 75-yard touchdown pass and a 6-0 lead with 2:31 left in the first quarter. A fumbled kickoff return gave the Demons prime real estate on the Wildcat 29  where five plays later Kerry Daniels jogged in from 10 yards out to end the first quarter with a 14-0 Demon lead.

Rentie and Marr again terrorized the ninth-ranked Wildcats (10-2) on their opening possession of the second quarter, this time connecting from 62 yards and pushing the score to a 21-0 with 11:07 left in the second quarter.

“We knew he (Rentie) was a good player and he got behind us a few times tonight and hurt us,” said Hendricks. “We dug ourselves a big hole early but I am proud of the way we fought back and got back into the game.”

Knight and company weren't ready to cash in the season just yet. Managing an 11-play, 90-yard drive covering just 4:11 off the clock, the quarterback bulled over from four yards out and put the Wildcats on the board, trailing 21-8 with 7:11 in the second quarter.

Lane Bouse added another score for the visiting team but staying resilient, Checotah fought back with a Jerry Casey five-yard plunge with 3:17 to draw to within 28-16 entering halftime.

Beginning a drive at their own 20-yard line to start the third quarter, the second of three costly Wildcat turnovers occurred when Knight, busting up the middle of the defense en-route to a 15-yard gain fumbled the ball at the Wildcat 49. Once again, the Demons took advantage. This time Bouse sprinted in from 12 yards out for a 34-16 lead with 3:30 left in the third quarter.

Again, Checotah answered as DeShay Bear busted a 38-yard touchdown run with 2:51 left in the third quarter to pull the home team within 34-22.

After a Demon punt, Knight engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive, chewing up 5:45 off the clock capped by a Knight two-yard quarterback sneak to make it a  34-28 score with 8:46 left to play.

It could have been the biggest stop of the season. After donating 25 yards in penalties the Wildcat defense held the Demons on a fourth-and-two at the Checotah 27 with 3:35 to play.

Knight, Bear and Jerry Casey methodically marched the Wildcat offense down the field where facing the second-and-goal from the 6, disaster struck with the fumbled exchanged, ending the comeback bid.

“We have a great group of kids, great senior leadership and I am very proud of our team,” said Hendricks. “This is a great life experience tonight. We had some setbacks, fought back and showed what were made of.”

Bear finished with 145 yards rushing and Cody Cox had 126 yards receiving.