Wagoner's Kerwin Thomas leads team to 40-24 win over Cleveland
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Friday, October 19, 2012
10/19/12 at 3:52 AM
WAGONER - Thursday night's District 4A-3 showdown between Wagoner and Cleveland featured a marquee matchup between two of the area's top offensive players - Wagoner tailback Lawrence Evitt and Cleveland quarterback Chas Stallard.
Neither disappointed, but the difference proved to be Wagoner's Kerwin Thomas, who had 240 total yards and four touchdowns to help lead second-ranked Wagoner past No. 9 Cleveland 40-24 at Odom Field.
"Kerwin probably had the best game of his career," Wagoner coach Dale Condict said. "He didn't have a great game last week, but we got him more involved on offense. He's a great player when he plays with confidence."
Thomas' 25-yard touchdown run with 10:17 left gave the Bulldogs a 26-24 lead. That capped their second scoring drive of the night that started at their 3.
Four minutes later, Evitt scored on an 80-yard run. Evitt has already set a school record with 1,969 rushing yards this season.
"I felt like I needed to put the team on my back like I did last week," said Evitt, who referred to rushing for 408 yards and six TDs against Oologah. "My offensive line did a great job."
Thomas sealed the victory for the Bulldogs (7-1, 5-0) with a 47-yard TD run with 3:51 remaining.
The game, however, had a painful conclusion for Thomas, who is a major-college prospect. He walked off the field with assistance after suffering an injured sternum on a tackle with 52 seconds left.
Thomas, who also made several key defensive plays on pass breakups and tackles, had six catches for 154 yards and seven carries for 86 yards. He had two TDs each as a rusher and receiver.
Thomas' big game complemented Evitt, the state's leading rusher. Evitt had 25 carries for 336 yards and two touchdowns.
Evitt and Thomas needed strong performances to help the Bulldogs overcome Stallard, who led Cleveland to a 24-20 lead through three quarters. Stallard completed 18-of-38 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 48 yards on 15 carries and recovered an Evitt fumble.
"Cleveland showed us why they were undefeated," Evitt said. "It wasn't easy."
The Tigers (7-1, 4-1) marched 60 yards in nine plays on the game's opening possession but the Bulldogs stopped the Tigers on three tries from the 2. On Wagoner's first offensive play, Clark used play action and connected with Thomas on a 97-yard touchdown bomb to give Wagoner a 7-0 lead.
Cleveland tied the game on Stallard's 25-yard TD screen pass to Dakota Hewitt with 1:48 left in the first quarter. Wagoner, however, needed only 66 seconds to regain the lead, 13-7, as Thomas scored on a 9-yard pass in the left flat from Clark. That was set up by Evitt's 43-yard run on second-and-25 and Thomas' 16-yard reception.
Stallard opened the second quarter with passes of 38 and 15 yards to Hewitt, with the latter a screen that gave Cleveland a 14-13 lead.
But Wagoner needed only two offensive plays to move back ahead on Evitt's 63-yard run.
The see-saw continued as Derek Reeves caught a 44-yard bomb from a scrambling Stallard to put Cleveland up, 21-20, with 3:55 left in the second period. That was set up by a Cleveland defensive stop after Stallard's 31-yard punt pinned the Bulldogs at the 3. Reeves finished with five catches for 112 yards.
Wagoner threatened to answer before halftime, but Evitt was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-2 at the Cleveland 23. The Bulldogs got the ball back at the 50 with 14 seconds left and there was an apropos end to the half as Stallard tackled Evitt after an 18-yard gain to the Cleveland 19.
Cleveland increased its lead to 24-20 on Tyler Myles' 29-yard field goal with 3:28 left in the third quarter to cap an 11-play, 60-yard drive. But those would be the only points for the Tigers after halftime as the Bulldogs focused more on pass coverage than Cleveland's running attack.
"In the second half, we did a better job containing him (Stallard) and not letting him get to the outside," Condict said. "When you let him run around, he's going to find somebody. Cleveland has a very good team. We knew we had to stop them. And when you have players like Kerwin, Lawrence and Decarius, you know always have a chance to score."
Wagoner 40, Cleveland 24
W: Thomas 97 pass from Clark (Rolen kick)
C: Hewitt 25 pass from Stallard (Myles kick)
W: Thomas 9 pass from Clark (kick failed)
C: Hewitt 15 pass from Stallard (Myles kick)
W: Evitt 63 run (Clark kick)
C: Reeves 44 pass from Stallard (Myles kick)
C: FG Myles 29
W: Thomas 25 run (run failed)
W: Evitt 80 run (Clark kick)
W: Thomas 47 run (Clark kick)
Original Print Headline: Difference makers
Barry Lewis 918-581-8393
Wagoner's Lawrence Evitt ran for 336 yards and two touchdowns in Wagoner's win over Cleveland. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Cleveland's Dakota Hewitt (right) avoids Wagoner's Denton Bosco during Thursday's game in Wagoner. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World