BETHANY -- At one point early in the fourth quarter, No. 1 Bethany had 283 total yards to Wagoner’s 89. The Bulldogs may have lost the statistic battle, but won the war on the scoreboard Friday night with an exciting 21-14 upset victory in the Class 4A quarterfinals at Southern Nazarene University.
It was a tight game for three quarters, but a wild finish in the last five minutes. Wagoner (10-2) dodged scoring bullets from one of the state’s best quarterbacks in Sam Brandt to advance to the semifinals next week. Bethany ends its season at 11-1.
The Bulldogs will face Poteau in the semifinal set for a neutral site on Nov. 29 or 30. This will be Wagoner's eighth trip to the semifinals since 2010.
The game had plenty of irony, too.
Bethany had never trailed all season to anyone and was a threat to score every time the Bronchos got the ball. Bethany’s defense had only given up 11 points a game, too.
Here is a summary of the big plays on offense and defense Wagoner needed to gain their 10th win for the 10th year in a row:
• Braden Drake scored two scintillating touchdowns in the final 3:21 on runs of 29 and 43 yards. Overall, he would finish with 104 yards on 13 carries.
Drake was also playing with a heavy heart. His grandfather, John C. Drake, died earlier in the week.
• Chase Nanni, who is well known for his play on offense, had big plays on defense. Nanni intercepted a Brandt pass with just under three minutes left. He also tipped a pass with 16 seconds left that teammate Kaden Charboneau intercepted to virtually end the game.
On offense, Nanni caught only two passes for 44 yards, but his biggest catch of his career came as Wagoner was trailing 14-7.
Facing a third-and-13 situation from the Bulldog 36 yard line, quarterback Sawyer Jones threw a pass to a well-covered Nanni. Nanni somehow came up with the reception to get the first down at the Bethany 29 yard line.
The next play, Drake bounced off three would-be tacklers to score from 29 yards out.
• Jaden Snyder and holder Jones somehow tied the game at 14-14 on the extra point kick. The snap was high and Jones got it down for Snyder to boot it home.
• Chochee Watson provided Wagoner’s other score in the second quarter. He scored on a 1-yard run for a 7-6 lead that held up until the nail-biting fourth quarter.
• Brandt was not only a threat on offense, but he got an interception with eight minutes left in the game while on defense. That only delayed Wagoner for a short time as the Bulldogs got the ball back shortly after that.
• Bethany missed two field goal tries in the second half -- one on a bad snap and the other attempt was blocked due to a another bad snap.
• The Bulldogs finished with 204 yards total offense with the vast majority coming in the fourth quarter.
• This was only the second meeting between the two teams. Each time Bethany and Wagoner faced off has come in the 4A quarterfinal. The Bronchos won last year’s game (with a wild finish) 42-35 at W.L. Odom Field.
This game was turnaround time for the Bulldogs.
WAGONER 21, BETHANY 14
Wagoner 0 7 0 14 -- 21
Bethany 6 0 0 8 -- 14
B: Sam Brandt 50 run (run failed)
W: Chochee Watson 1 run (Jaden Snyder kick)
B: Ben Lawson 27 pass from Brandt (Brandt run)
W: Braden Drake 29 run (Snyder kick)
W: Drake 43 run (Snyder kick)