Pioneers hang on
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Saturday, October 15, 2011
10/15/11 at 7:42 AM
OWASSO - In a game filled with offensive fireworks, the most valuable drive didn't produce any points.
Eighth-ranked Stillwater kept the ball for the final five minutes to seal a 31-28 victory over No. 6 Owasso in a District 6A-4 showdown for first place on Friday night at Owasso Stadium.
Last week, Owasso drove 95 yards and scored with 10 seconds left to stun Union. The Pioneers made sure the Rams didn't get that chance again.
"We tried to keep the ball in our hands as long as possible, even if it meant we had to run backwards and slide," said Stillwater senior quarterback Jerame Littell, who did just that on the last play to erase the final seconds.
Littell completed 18-of-29 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown to lead Stillwater (6-1, 4-0 6A-4). Senior wideouts Corey Hassel and Jesse Vester scored two touchdowns each for the Pioneers, with three coming on the ground.
Owasso quarterbacks Kason Key and Jaylen Lowe combined to complete 16-of-23 passes for 257 yards and three TDs - all to Keon Hatcher, who had six catches for 154 yards, but he was shut out in the second half. And so were the Rams (4-3, 3-1), who led 28-21 at intermission.
"This defense in the second half has been outstanding all year long, giving up only 34 points," Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard said. "I think it's really about adjusting to the speed of the game every week. We changed up our fronts a little more in the second half and we made on slight coverage adjustment to help us out on Keon. He's an outstanding player."
Two kicks had a big impact after the Pioneers took the second-half kickoff and scored the tying TD on Hassel's 4-yard reverse.
Matheus Barbosa's 29-yard field goal with 5:18 left in the third quarter snapped the 28-28 tie.
In the fourth period, Hassel pinned the Rams at their 9 with a 67-yard punt. Owasso then drove to the Pioneers 38, but turned the ball over on downs with an incompletion and never got it back as Stillwater ran the final 13 plays.
"We're talking with five minutes left, what do you do?" Barnard said. "We were kind of in no-man's land. Do you try to clock it or do you keep using your tempo? We just decided to keep moving the football and it worked out."
Most of Stillwater's final drive consisted of runs from Littell and Andrew Minter, who finished with 21 carries for 146 yards.
"I'm ecstatic right now," Littell said. "This was for a potential district championship and I couldn't be any happier," Littell said.
Stillwater, however, still has one big obstacle left for a district title as Union visits the Pioneers in the regular-season finale on Nov. 4.
Owasso and Stillwater combined for 448 total yards in a first half that included 49 points and only one punt.
Each team scored on both of its first-quarter possessions. Owasso struck first when Key connected with a wide-open Hatcher in the end zone for a 16-yard TD to convert a fourth-and-goal.
Stillwater matched that 10-play drive with one of its own, capped by Littell's 12-yard TD pass to Hassel.
Scottie Prealow regained the lead for Owasso with a 16-yard TD scamper, but Stillwater countered with Vester's 1-yard TD run off a direct snap to tie it 14-14.
The Rams began the second period with Lowe's 47-yard TD bomb to Hatcher for a 21-14 lead. The teams then traded interceptions. Austin McBroom's pickoff and return to the Owasso 16 set up Vester's tying 1-yard TD run.
Owasso took a 28-21 lead when Hatcher took an over-the-middle pass from Key at midfield and made an amazing run through the secondary for a 63-yard TD. Stillwater's next possession ended with the first punt of the night and the Rams ran out the half's final minute.
"We were down on the scoreboard but we weren't down in the locker room," Littell said. "We knew we were going to come back and get it. The offense picked it up in the second half and the defense did a great job."
Stillwater 31, Owasso 28
Stillwater 14 7 10 0 — 31
Owasso 14 14 0 0 — 28
O: Hatcher 16 pass from K.Key (Sailing kick)
S: Hassel 12 pass from Je.Littell (Barbosa kick)
O: Prealow 16 run (Sailing kick)
S: Vester 1 run (Barbosa kick)
O: Hatcher 47 pass from Lowe (Sailing kick)
S: Vester 1 run (Barbosa kick)
O: Hatcher 63 pass from K.Key (Sailing kick)
S: Hassel 4 run (Barbosa kick)
S: FG Barbosa 29
Barry Lewis 581-8393
Stillwater's Jesse Vester catches a pass between Owasso's Chandler Houtman and Tyler Lindsey during Friday's game in Owasso. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Stillwater quarterback Jerame Littell passes as teammate Taylor Craig blocks Owasso's Demetrion Simpson Friday. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Owasso quarterback Kason Key looks to pass under pressure from Stillwater's Paul Wilson. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World