CHECOTAH — The Class 3A No. 8 Checotah Wildcats are moving on to the second round of the playoffs after jumping out to an early lead and then hanging on with some great defense to defeat Cascia Hall 36-22 on Friday night at Ray Grandstaff Stadium at Ogle Field.
“We did what we had to do to win. We created turnovers defensively, we were able to score points offensively and we were solid on special teams and that’s the formula for success right there,” said Checotah head coach Chad Hendricks.
With Cascia Hall trailing by 21 in the third quarter, the Commandos appeared to switch momentum to their side with a 28 yard toss from Jaxon Henderson to Jayce Ward to cut the lead to 14 at 36-22 as time expired in the quarter. The Commando defense forced a turnover on downs on Checotah’s next possession.
Cascia started their drive at their own 13-yard line and 13 plays later had driven to the Checotah 1. Poised to cut the lead, the Commando quarterback dropped back and tossed the ball to the end zone only to find the Wildcats' Trenton Dan, who intercepted and returned it to the Commando side of the field only to have the ball brought back to Checotah’s five yard line.
Checotah was forced to punt back on fourth down. The return set the Commandos up at the Checotah 21 yard line. The first play by Cascia was another pass from Henderson and this time was intercepted by Jacob Barrett to seal the game.
“I kinda got robbed on my first interception, they called pass interference on that," said Barrett. "But the last one I saw the slot go inside on me and I just stayed in his hip pocket and seen that ball and just jumped the route and picked it."
Barrett provided the spark on offense that led his team to the early lead. After throwing an incomplete pass on the first play, the Eastern Michigan commit as a receiver carried the ball for four of the five plays on the 70-yard drive and capped it with a 43-yard sprint to the end zone. Barrett connected with Brock Butler for the two-point conversion to put the Wildcats up 8-0.
The Wildcats' second drive was more of a mix of running from Barrett and Elijah Fuller. Fuller, filling in for the injured Dontairre Fisher, racked up 27 yards on the drive with Barrett running for 38. The drive was capped on a trick play on a pitch to Brendan Dan who tossed the ball to Bailey McIntosh for a 23-yard score and after a Angel Llanas kick, Checotah was up 15-0.
“Elijah (Fuller) hats off to him he has grown up so much this year and became a great player for us," said Hendricks. "He got thrown in to this role and he has embraced it and there is still a learning curve, but we have another week to get him solid. He is an effective runner."
Cascia Hall posted 15 unanswered points to tie the game, but Checotah had one more drive in the second quarter that was fruitful.
Starting at their own 35 yard line, the Wildcats only needed four plays to find the end zone and take the lead that they never relinquished. After Barrett rushed for six yards, he relied on his arm for the rest of the drive. A 16-yard toss to McIntosh was sandwiched around tosses to Trenton Dan. The first was good for 19 yards and the scoring toss went for 24 yards. Barrett and Trenton Dan connected on the two-point conversion to put Checotah up 23-15 at halftime.
Barrett added a one-yard dive for a score in the third quarter and finished the scoring with a 76-yard toss to Brendan Dan to put Checotah up 36-15.
Checotah will travel to Plainview next Friday.
CHECOTAH 36, CASCIA HALL 22
Cascia Hall 0 15 7 0 — 22
Checotah 15 8 13 0 — 36
CHS- Jacob Barrett 43 run (Barrett throw to Brock Butler) 9:14
CHS- Bailey McIntosh 23 pass from Brendan Dan (Angel Llanas kick) 2:23
CHHS- Zachary Uhren 2 pass from Jaxon Henderson (Luke Braley kick) 8:47
CHHS- Flynn Sage 1 run (Henderson to Uhren 2 pt) 1:34
CHS- Trenton Dan 24 pass from Barrett (T. Dan pass from Barrett) :12
CHS-Barrett one run (2 pt fail) 5:36
CHS- B. Dan 76 pass from Barrett (Llanas kick) 1:14
CHHS- Matt Clover 28 pass from Henderson (Braley kick) 0:00
First downs 18 14
Rushes-Yards 14-12 40-327
Passing Yards 323 195
Passes C-A-I 25-41-2 12-16-0
Punts-Avg. 4-25 1-25
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 4-38 12-128
Passing: CHHS- Jaxon Henderson 25-41-2 323, 2 TD; CHS- Jacob Barrett 11-15-0 172 2 TD
Receiving: CHHS- Zachary Uhren 9-116 TD, Jayce Ward 4-57 TD; CHS Brendan Dan 4-91 TD; Bailey McIntosh 2-39 TD
Rushing: CHHS Jayce Ward 4-9; CHS Barrett 26-206 2 TD, Elijah Fuller 13-55