Special to The Sun
A 32-yard field goal by Osvaldo Estupinan midway through the third period was enough to propel the Midwest City Bombers to a stunning 3-0 victory over Edmond Santa Fe at Wantland Stadium in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.
With OU-bound, blue ribbon quarterback Justice Hansen still nursing a hamstring pull and his backup sophomore Keaton Torre out with knee problems, the Wolves turned to their top running back Cameron Westbrook and junior wide receiver/defensive back Kaden Mendenhall to run the offense.
Heralded transfer Michael Farmer also saw limited action, carrying only four times for 11 yards but it was the five turnovers that were the biggest culprit in the Santa Fe offense, which produced only 118 yards rushing and another 67 passing.
Wolfpack coach Lance Manning sent Hansen through all the pre-game drills but was just disguising his offense from the Bombers. “He’s doing very well and we probably could have played him, but it’s just his nature to take off and run even if we tell him not to and that’s too big a risk to take.
“It’s too soon to tell if he’ll be ready for Yukon next week or not. But after tonight, looks like we need a lot of work on offense whether Justice plays or not,” he added. “But, we weren’t ready for this. Missing your starting quarterback — especially one the caliber of Justice — is going to affect the way you play. But we didn’t play anywhere near the level we had practiced this week,” he added.
Even with all the offensive woes, the Wolves’ defense kept them in the game, except for the field goal.
On the first play of the game, the Bombers tried a flea-flicker that senior defensive back Aaron Jones intercepted, giving Westbrook and Co. the ball on the 48. When junior Ke'Marrie Carter-Hartfield blasted off tackle for 11 yards and Westbrook added six on a keeper, the Wolves were suddenly on the Bomber 35.
A holding call wiped out a 14-yard gain by Westbrook and pushed the ball back to midfield. An incomplete pass and a Westbrook sack by 330-pound Sheldon Estes forced a punt.
The defense, sparked by Michael Onwuchuruba, Austin Mack, Jeremy Cox and Hayden Bell forced the Bombers to punt on three straight possessions and on the fourth, Mendenhall picked off a Brendan Brown pass to give Santa Fe the ball on its own 35. Westbrook picked up nine before the Wolves were forced to punt.
Santa Fe forced a punt with 2:11 remaining in the first half and had possession on its own 40. Then Westbrook hooked up with Malik Earl for a 40-yard gain to the 20. Westbrook, who carried 19 times for 51 yards, gained six and Hartfield picked up nine to the five with 1:02 remaining.
Farmer gained just a yard and then Conner Kenzie sacked Westbrook for a one-yard loss. On third down, Jones appeared headed for paydirt on a reverse when Bomber defensive ace Will Sunderland ran him down in the flat at the one to bring up fourth down with six seconds remaining in the half.
Sunderland and Camron Carson then teamed up to stuff Hartfield in the backfield to stop the Wolves’ only real scoring threat of the evening.
Quinzell Jones registered Santa Fe’s next defensive gem when he picked off a Brown pass late in the third period and downed it on his own 23. The Wolves got a 14-yard gainer from sophomore Darren Williams before being forced to punt.
A nine-yard gain by Williams pushed the ball to the Midwest City 25-yard line on the next possession, but 30 yards in penalties and a pass interception by Sunderland sent the Bombers rolling toward an apparent clinching touchdown.
A 58-yard blast up the middle by Midwest City junior Tre'jon Sherffield carried all the way to the 10. Following a penalty, backup quarterback Aaron McKinney broke loose for 14 3/4 yards before being pulled down by Mack just inches short of the goal line.
A five-yard penalty pushed it back just past the five and Sherffield got only one on the next play. On third down, the ball came loose and Garrett Russell was right there to pounce on the pigskin and give the Wolves one more chance with 3:07 remaining on the clock on their own nine-yard line.
Westbrook and Hartfield advanced the ball out to the 28 with 1:50 remaining and a six-yard completion to Earl moved it out to the 33 and a first down. Westbrook picked up eight more on two carries but an incomplete pass brought up fourth-and-2 at the 41.
Carson had one more defensive gem in his bag of tricks as he led a posse of Bomber defenders in swarming Westbrook for a three-yard loss.
Brown then practiced his victory formation twice as the Bombers ran out the clock.
The Santa Fe game in Yukon’s sparkling new football complex will kickoff at 7 p.m. as will all Class 5A and 6A contests this season.