Special to The Sun
There will be a new champion in Class 2A football in Oklahoma this year.
The Oklahoma Christian School Saints, the defending champs in Class 2A, suffered a heartbreaking 32-25 overtime loss to Hartshorne Friday night at Oklahoma Christian School in the 2A quarterfinals.
Hartshorne will meet No. 1-ranked Millwood in one semifinal and No. 2-ranked Davis will face Vian in the other to determine OCS’ successor in possessing the gold ball.
Heartbreak came for the Saints after Hartshorne had scored in the first overtime session on a 10-yard pass from Dylan Pingleton to freshman Trey Medicine Bear and then the 230-pound Medicine Bear kicked the point-after-touchdown to put the Miners on top, 32-25.
But when Luke Frankfurt picked up nine and a half yards on the Saints’ first play, things were looking up for Derek Turner’s squad. That is, until what could have been the tying touchdown turned into a botched handoff that ended up with the ball on the ground and a Hartshorne defender solidly on top of it.
While the jubilant Miners and their overflow crowd of supporters celebrated, the stunned OCS side of the field was left to wonder what could have been.
Jack Markmiller’s 34-yard field goal on a controversial untimed down after the halftime clock had expired gave the Saints an 18-12 lead at halftime and they quickly made it 25-12 early in the third period.
On Hartshorne’s second play after intermission, Oklahoma Christian standout Evan Lusher leaped high and snared a Pingleton pass to give the Saints possession on the Hartshorne 35. On the first play, Frankfort, who finished with 153 hard-earned yards on 26 carries, barged through a huge hole cleared by Preston Draelos and Braden Werner, cut back across the middle and dashed into the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown scamper. Markmiller’s kick made it 25-12 and the band played “When the Saints go marching in.”
But the Miners took the kickoff and scored in 17 plays, including two 15-yard penalties, another penalty that awarded the Miners 27 yards and one series when they only had to go eight yards for a first down.
Dallas Herring, who picked up 105 yards in 30 cracks into the rugged Saints defense, went over for the TD from the one with 3:58 left and Medicine Bear tacked on the PAT to narrow the gap to 25-19.
But disaster struck as the Saints fumbled the kickoff, giving the Miners possession just 35 yards from the goal. Palmer Rice and Justin Lewis had defensive stops, but Pingleton was clutch on two fourth-down conversions and Herring finally went in from the six to tie it at 25-all. Medicine Bear had the PAT blocked by Evan Welch with 6:17 left on the clock.
Even when the Saints fumbled away the kickoff for the second straight time, the Saints D was equal to the task as Welch dumped Pingleton for an eight-yard loss to force a punt, giving Oklahoma Christian the ball 67 yards from the goal line and 4:03 left on the clock.
Frankfurt and sophomore quarterback Tommy Qualls combined for a first down and following a six-yard gain by Frankfurt, the Miners were flagged with a 15-yard penalty, moving the ball to the Hartshorne 35-yard line. Frankfurt then carried it four straight times, the last time for two yards and a first down to the 24.
Facing fourth down with 18 seconds left on the clock, Markmiller set up for a 38-yard field goal attempt, but the Miners broke through and blocked it, setting up the overtime heartbreak.
The Saints took the opening kickoff of the game and marched smartly 80 yards in 11 plays, with Frankfurt going the final two yards after picking up 40 on the drive. Will McKinnis ran in untouched for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
Kade Van Meter intercepted a Pingleton pass on Hartshorne’s fourth play of the ballgame but the Saints couldn’t move and were forced to punt. The Miners scored with 1:23 left in the first quarter on a two-yard plunge by Herring, but the PAT pass failed and the Saints still led, 8-6.
Hartshorne used a pass interception to set up another Henning touchdown at the 5:04 mark but again, the two-point conversion pass was no good.
OCS took the kickoff and traveled 69 yards in just over two minutes, thanks to a 10-yard Qualls-to-McKinnis pass and gains of 10, 17, 10 and 20 for the touchdown by Frankfurt. Markmiller made it 15-12 with 2:17 left in the half.
Justin Lewis and Braden Werner teamed with Jacob Smith to shut down the Miners on offense, forcing a punt that only carried 15 yards. Qualls took advantage of the short field and guided Oklahoma Christian into Markmiller’s field-goal range just before half hitting Caleb Herrera to set up the kick.