By Eric Shannon
TAHLEQUAH — Riding on the back of Justin Hooper's 231 yards rushing on 35 touches the Sequoyah Indians rallied from a 32-12 deficit with a 22-point second half rally that fell just short as the Indians drop a heartbreaker to the visiting Locust Grove Pirates 38-34 in the District 3A-7 opener for both teams Friday night .
“Our kids showed a lot of heart out there tonight,” said Indian's coach Shane Richardson. “They fought every snap tonight and could have given in when we were down at halftime but they didn't. They fought back and gave us a chance to win it at the end.”
Pirates quarterback Mason Fine engineered a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, one being on the ground the other through the air. He then struck again early in the second quarter and put Locust Grove (4-0, 1-0) up 22-0 with 9:45 left in the second quarter.
Then the Indians (1-3, 0-1) seem to answer a wake-up call when Nick Kingfisher took the ensuing kickoff back 52 yards to the Pirate 41. Seven plays later Hooper trotted in from the 5-yard line and gave Sequoyah some life, down 22-6 with 6:32 until halftime.
Fine and Locust Grove struck again when he connected with Cameron McIntire from 34 yards out. But the Indians wouldn't back down as they gutted out a 12-play 4:49 drive with Tiron RattlingGourd diving in from the 1 and keep the Indians in the game 32-12.
After Hooper scored again with 8:20 to go in the third, the Indians found themselves within striking distance down just 32-18.
“Justin just gets better every week,” said Richardson. “He is such a competitor and lifts our offense up.”
Then it was Zach Parish's turn to do some work for the Indians in the fourth quarter. Parish found Caisen Green from 24 yards out to pull within 38-26 with 5:15 left.
RattlingGourd recovered the onside kick and once again the Indians were in business at the Pirate 47. Parish marched his troops down for the Indians second score in a two minute span. This time he connected with Green from 31 yards away to close within four points, 38-34 with 3:44 left in the game.
“We challenged our kids at halftime to show some heart and hook up and they did with that rally,” said Richardson.
One last onside kick was unsuccessful, then with 1:55 to play, Parish and the Indians were unable to muster a final drive pinned at their own 8.
“We missed some opportunities out there tonight,” said Richardson. “We dropped some passes, we missed some open receivers, we missed some tackles. But we played a very good football team tonight.”
Former Muskogee head coach Matt Hennesy, in his third season at Locust Grove, was happy after his Pirates held on. His team matched last year’s victory total with the win.
“I am proud of our kids,” he said. “They have come a long way from where they were two years ago and to come in here and play at team like this and pull out a win says a lot for them.”
LOCUST GROVE 38 , SEQUOYAH 34
Locust Grove 16 16 0 6—38
Sequoyah 0 12 6 16 —34
LGHS - Mason Fine 1 run (Trever Taylor pass from Fine) 8:15
LGHS - Calin Witt 5 pass from Fine (Fine run) 1:07
LGHS - Jason Pirtle 32 pass from Fine (Pirtle pass from Fine) 9:45
SHS - Justin Hooper 5 run (pass fail) 6:32
LGHS - Cameron McIntire 34 pass from Fine (Brock Taylor run) 5:01
SHS - Tiron RattlingGourd 1 run (pass fail) :35
SHS - Hooper 1 run (run fail) 8:20
LGHS - McIntire 95 run (run fail) 8:42
SHS - Caisen Green 24 pass from Zach Parish (Parish run) 5:15
SHS - Green 31 pass from Parish (Parish run) 3:44
First Downs 20 26
Rushes -Yards 22-132 43-243
Passing CAI 21-35-1 12-34
Passing Yards 252 200
Punts - Avg. 2-35 1-40
Penalties Yards 12-85 11-92