By Eric Shannon
CHECOTAH — DeShay Bear was the workhorse for the Checotah Wildcats Friday night, churning out 144 yards on 16 carries, a pair of touchdowns and leading a ball-control offense for the Wildcats en-route to a 37-13 first round 3A playoff victory against the Jay Bulldogs at Ogle Field.
Checotah will play host to Beggs next Friday night at home.
“I was very pleased the way we ran the ball tonight and the way we controlled the line of scrimmage,” Checotah coach Chad Hendricks said. “Bear had a great night, but our system is set up for a two-back rotation, balance and to keep everyone fresh through the night.”
Fresh legs and balance was the Wildcats (10-1) best weapon against the Bulldogs’ defense as the other running back Jerry Casey chipped in 78 yards rushing and quarterback Caleb Knight added 120 yards rushing and passed for 125 yards.
The Bulldogs, though, scored first on the opening possession with a 44-yard pass when Brandon Weaver found Brett Pritchett open on a post route with 8:53 left in the first quarter.
The opening score seemed to wake up the Wildcats.
On the ensuing Wildcat possession, Knight quickly engineered a six-play drive that took just 1:07 when he connected with Cody Cox for a 39-yard touchdown.
The two-point conversion gave the Wildcats the lead and one they would never relinquish.
After a Bulldog punt, Knight once again started the offense on an up-tempo drive, ending with a one-yard plunge pushing the lead to 16-7 with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
Enter the workhorse Bear.
With 6:05 left in the second quarter, the Wildcats called on their bruising running back to carry the load. With runs of 11 and 12 yards, Bear punched in his first touchdown in a seven-yard scamper to pad the lead to 23-7 with 3:07 left in the first half.
Hendrix praised the offensive line.
“The offensive line played very well tonight,” he said. “We made some adjustments in the second quarter and they were making huge holes for our running game. We don't have a selfish team, everyone knows their roles and does them.”
Bear continued to torch the Bulldogs in the second half. He capped a five-play drive with a 45-yard sprint up the belly of the defense to increase the lead to 30-7 with 10:19 left in the third quarter.
After a failed fourth down conversion to try to close the gap by the Bulldogs at the Wildcats’ 15, Knight marched his team 85 yards in chewing up 5:39 off the clock. He added his second touchdown with 3:11 left in the third quarter and push the score to 37-7.
Even with the offensive power on the night, it was the Wildcat defense that might have shown the brightest by holding the Bulldogs to just 58 yards rushing before a 55-yard run with under 30 seconds left in the game.
“I challenged our defense to step up and rise up tonight,” Hendricks said. “We really played well defensively and got after them tonight.”
CHECOTAH 37, JAY 13
JAY 7 0 0 6–13
CHECOTAH 16 7 14 0–37
JHS - Brett Pritchett 44 pass from Brandon Weaver (Sergio Perez kick) 8:53
CHS - Cody Cox 39 pass from Caleb Knight (Colton Stephens pass from Keaton Donathan) 7:04
CHS - Knight 1 run (Donathan run) 3:39
CHS - DeShay Bear 7 run (Jacob Campbell kick) 3:07
CHS - Bear 45 run (Campbell kick) 10:19
CHS - Knight 20 run (Campbell kick) 3:11
JHS- River Martinez 3 pass from Weaver (kick failed) :07
First Downs 10 27
Rushes -Yards 2 54-296
Passing A-C-I 12-23-0 8-16-1
Passing Yards 105 125
Punts - Avg. 7-30 3-27
Penalties Yards 4-15 11-85
Fum - Lost 1-0 2-1
Individual - RUSHING -CHS - DeShay Bear 15-144, Caleb Knight 14-120, Jerry Casey 15-78, Andrew Sands 3-26
PASSING - CHS - Caleb Knight 8-16-1-1-125
RECEIVING - CHS - Cody Cox 2-42, Colton Stephens 3-28, Ronnie Lowe 1-30, Drew Dan 2-17