Senior maturity, solid defense and an explosive long-play offense spelled doom for the Coweta Tigers Friday night at Tiger Field as they hosted the fourth ranked Piedmont Wildcats in 5A quarterfinal playoff action. The Wildcats prevailed 62-21, propelled early by Coweta miscues.
Within the first four minutes of the game, the Wildcats scored twice. Their first score came on the opening kickoff to Coweta that bounced straight back about 10 yards through the air and into the arms of a Wildcat at the Coweta 35.
Their next score came when sophomore quarterback Gage Hamm was picked off along the near sideline with a pick-six interception, resulting in a 14-0 Piedmont advantage with 8:07 still on the opening period clock.
Piedmont scored a third first period touchdown on a 66-yard run by senior quarterback Dylan Hampton.
To open the second period, the Wildcats scored on a 5-yard run to go up 28-0 after Hamm’s second interception of the half.
After Tiger freshman Na’Kylan Starks returned the kickoff 55 yards to the Wildcats 22, Hamm got the Tigers on the scoreboard with a 22-yard run. Brody Rucker added the extra point with 6:12 left in the half.
Piedmont responded on the next possession with Hampton going 58-yards to score his second, long range touchdown of the first half.
Coweta used a backward pass across field on the kickoff from Starks to Mason Ford and the freshman scatback raced to the Piedmont 28-yard line.
Unfortuantely, a bad snap cost the Tigers 11 yards and they stalled, turning the ball over to the Wildcats at the 25-yard line. Four plays later, Hampton connected with Caden Hendren for a 61-yard score with 2:10 left in the half.
In the closing seconds of the half, Starks connected with Hamm for the second straight week for an 11-yard touchdown. The score narrowed Coweta’s intermission deficit to 41-14.
Returning to the field the second half, Piedmont scored twice in the third period on two Hamilton passes of 70 and 11 yards.
The Tigers added their final score with 5:58 left in the third period on a 1-yard run by Hamm. Rucker added the extra point.
Piedmont’s last score was on a 69-yard run by reserve back Palmer McCall to seal the 62-21 win. They advance to the semi-finals and a rematch with Midwest City Carl Albert. Piedmont ended Carl Albert’s long winning string this season.
“Unfortunately, their number one strength (power rushing offense) is our number one weakness. We are not real strong and hopefully a good off-season in the weight room will correct some of that problem. We will get there,” Head Coach Tim Harper said after the game. “We are a young team. We made too many mistakes and really put ourselves in a hole early in the first quarter.
“Gabe (Hamm) had a rough night, the way it goes in life. One week you are Player of the Week (for a TV station) and next week its different,” Harper continued. “In my opinion he is the best sophomore quarterback in the state, and he is going to continue to get better. (He) Just took one on the chin tonight with sophomore mistakes against a veteran opponent.
“Our small backs and also being small in the defensive secondary hurt us. Let’s face it they are a great, veteran team. We are going to get better. Our young players learned a lot this season.”
After the game, Harper told his team there was nothing to hang their heads about.
“We got a lot done and played a great team, I am so proud of you and how hard you have worked. I truly love all of you and I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t mean it.”
Score By QuartersPiedmont 21 20 14 7 — 62
Coweta 0 14 7 0 — 21
Ped – Devontae Pickard 1 run. PAT – Preston Fansher kick.
Ped – Colby Matlock 35-yard interception return. PAT – Fansher kick.
Ped. – Dylan Hampton 66-yard run. PAT – Fansher kick.
Ped. – Pickard 5-yard run. PAT – Fansher kick.
Cow – Gage Hamm 22-yard run. PAT Brody Rucker kick.
Ped – Hampton 58-yard run. PAT no good.
Ped – Caden Hendren 68-yard pass from Hampton. PAT Fansher kick.
Cow –Hamm 11-yard pass from Na’Kylan Starks. PAT Rucker kick.
Ped – Cameron West 70-yard pass from Hampton. PAT Fansher kick.
Cow – Hamm 1-yard run. PAT Rucker kick.
Ped – Doran Hillman 11-yard pass from Hampton. PAT Fansher kick.
Ped – Palmer McCall 69-yard run. PAT Fansher kick.
Passing – 16 of 25 – 145 yards, 1 touchdown.
Rushing – 26 carries for 96 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Total Offense – 241 yards, 3 touchdowns, 42 plays.
Passing – Gage Hamm 14 of 23 – 108 yards, 2 interceptions; Na’Kylan Starks 2 of 2 – 37 yards, 1 touchdown.
Receiving – Blake Lair 3 for 61 yards; Mason Ford 7 for 46 yards; Gage Hamm 1 for 16 yards, 1 touchdown; Na’Kylan Starks 1 for 14 yards; Gunnar McCollough 3 for 12 yards.
Rushing – Gage Hamm 14 carries 30 yards, 2 touchdowns; Piper Pennington 3 carries 30 yards; Mason Ford 2 carries 17 yards; Na’Kylan Starks 5 carries 10 yards; Gunnar McCollough 1 carry 8 yards; Reed Gaddy 1 carry 1 yard.