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December 14, 2013

Wolverines’ season ends: Vian defense struggles in semifinal loss to Davis

MCALESTER – An explosive first half slowed in the second and for Vian, it came to a halt here Friday night in the Class 2A semifinals against Davis.

With an unstoppable wishbone offense before the break, aided by Wolverine turnovers, the Wolves made it two straight semifinal wins over Vian, this one a 56-39 decision at McAlester High School’s First National Field.

A Wolverines’ rally of 18 unanswered points in the third quarter wasn’t enough. Looking at a 49-21 deficit in the locker room as Davis scored on all seven possessions, Vian finally got some defensive stops by going to a four-man front with three linebackers in the box.

But when Eric Casey was stopped inches short on a fourth-and-3 just shy of the Davis 39, the Wolves got their only second-half touchdown, a 14-yard run by Braden Ruth with 1:16 to play.

Four first-half turnovers put Vian (13-1) in a hole. They wound up with six in all, one shy of what they coughed up in last year’s 22-0 shutout loss.

Davis (14-0) had 335 yards in the first half, 293 on the ground and 234 in the first quarter, and scored on all seven possessions. Wolves quarterback Blake Summers scored on runs of 61, 38 and 5 yards in posting 170 yards rushing on 10 first-half carries.

Still, Davis led only 21-14 through one quarter of play, where the final four scores of the half came in just under a three-minute span. What buried Vian in the second quarter was four turnovers, two on basically the same drive that kept it to three which were converted for Wolves scores.

That event came on the opening drive of the quarter for Vian. From his own 27, quarterback Rylee Simon’s pass was intercepted by Summers, who fumbled the ball back to Vian’s Josh Cowart. Two plays later, Simon was unable to get a handle on a high snap in pistol formation and lost chase on the ball as the Wolves’ Chazdon Anderson recovered at the Wolverine 8. On the next play, fullback Braden Ruth took it 8 yards, making it 28-14 with 10:15 to go until halftime.

“Two years in a row, turnovers killed us and like we talked about earlier in the week, you can’t make those against a good team,” Vian coach Brandon Tyler said.

“I didn’t think our defense would give up that much but it is what it is.”

Davis coach Jody Weber thinks they’ll be other times after watching the team belonging to the college roommate of his brother Matt rally.

“When you have leadership like Brandon Tyler, he has high character, so you have a high character team,” he said. “I guess it was fun for people who like scoring but I don’t like playing these guys because it’s always a dogfight. We’ll have to continue playing them every year though, because they’ll be back here.”

Simon hit Denver Coffee on an 18-yard TD pass to get the third-quarter rally going. A fumble recovery by Coffee set up the next score, the first of two 8-yard TD passes from Simon to senior Shamal Evans, the last coming with 1:09 to play in the quarter. All five of Evans’ receptions came in the third quarter.

Simon was 16-of-29 for 179 yards and three TDs, but the four interceptions proved a major factor against a blitzing Davis defense.

“It’s on me,” the junior said. “Any good quarterback knows they’ve got to read the blitz or there’s going to be fallout. But we’ll be back next year.”

Davis didn’t get a first down in the second half until  Ruth broke a 37-yarder up the middle on the final play of the quarter.

Summers finished with 214 yards on 18 carries and three TDs. Ruth had 138 on 14, scoring four times.

Simon led Vian with 144 rushing yards, Casey had 121. Both will return as seniors.

“Like I told the kids I’m proud of them,” Tyler said. “No one thought we’d be playing tonight. We graduate three players that played tonight so we’ve got a great nucleus coming back.”

Davis plays Millwood in next week’s championship game.

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