By Tommy Cobb
WAGONER – The Wagoner offense spent much of its second round playoff contest against Weatherford doing two things it’s not used to – punting and fighting for every yard it could get.
But the second-ranked Bulldogs’ defense was just as stingy as Weatherford’s.
Wagoner forced six Weatherford turnovers and held the Eagles to negative rushing yardage in the second half while Lawrence Evitt rushed for 152 yards and three scores to lead the Bulldogs past Weatherford, 33-10, Friday night at W. L. Odom Stadium.
The win puts Wagoner (11-1) in the semifinals for the third straight year against Anadarko next week. Weatherford finished at 7-4.
“We knew it would be tough,” said Wagoner coach Dale Condict. “They are very athletic especially in the secondary. Offensively, we had a hard time getting going. We had too many penalties and missed blocks.”
So with the offense sputtering, Wagoner simply relied on its defense to control the game. With the game still undecided at only 12-3 in the Bulldogs favor, it was the defense’s second half performance that was most impressive.
“We put in our speed package,” Condict said. “We were able to control what they did offensively and force them into some turnovers.”
Wagoner’s defense flexed its muscle on the first three series of the second half. The Bulldogs came up with two sacks on Weatherford’s first drive, stopped the Eagles on fourth and three at the Wagoner 40, and forced a fumble on a sack at the Wagoner 24.
Meanwhile, Evitt finally made the big play he’s known for on a 40-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Wagoner a 19-3 advantage.
“Sometimes it gets frustrating when you’re used to making a lot of big plays and you’re having to work for everything,” Condict said. “I think in the second half Lawrence figured out that he doesn’t have to make a big play every time. We had to remind ourselves that we just have to be patient. It’s okay to punt, not that you have to like it.”
Weatherford had to resort to playing catch up in the final quarter and that played right into Wagoner’s defensive strengths. Austin Peck and Justus Beeks each came up with interceptions that led to touchdowns as Wagoner built a 33-3 lead.
The only bright spot for Weatherford was Blaine Woodson’s 85 yard kickoff return. The Eagles were held to minus 28 yards rushing in the second half.
Fourth-down conversions were key in the first half. On fourth and two, Evitt put the Bulldogs ahead 6-0 on an 18-yard run up the middle.
On Weatherford’s next possession, it was the Eagles’ turn to convert on fourth and two. However, Peck had different plans as he stopped Jacob Hoffman for a four yard loss.
Denton, who recovered a fumble earlier, came up with an interception to set up Wagoner’s second score. This time Evitt scored on a 12-yard run to make it 12-0.
“I think fourth down was our best down at times,” Condict said. “I thought stopping them right before the half and making them settle for a field goal was big for us.”
WAGONER 33, WEATHERFORD 10
Weatherford 0 3 0 7 – 10
Wagoner 0 12 0 21 – 33
WaHS – Lawrence Evitt 18 run (run fail) 9:01
WaHS – Evitt 12 run (kick fail) 2:52
WeHS – FG Jason Nichols 42 0:00
WaHS – Evitt 40 run (Decarius Clark kick) 11:42
WaHS – Devin Cantrell 10 pass from Clark (Clark kick) 3:48
WaHS – Chris Cravatt 9 run (Tanner Rolen kick) 1:27
WeHS – Blaine Woodson 85 kickoff return (Nichols kick) 1:13
First Downs 11 13
Rushes-yards 28-24 37-162
Passing yards 158 65
Passes (CAI) 14-29-3 6-10-0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 1-1
Punts-avg 2-36 5-36
Penalties-yds 5-43 9-69
RUSHING – WeHS, Darien Malone 7-35; WaHS, Lawrence Evitt 24-152.
PASSING – WeHS, Garrett Gaunt 14-28-3 158; WaHS, Decarius Clark 6-10-0 65.
RECEIVING – WeHS, C.J. Davis 4-63; WaHS, Hayden Ford 2-24.