NOBLE — For Verdigris, the school’s first semifinal appearance got off to a rocky start and did not get much better from there.
Plainview returned the game’s opening kickoff for a touchdown as part of a 35-point first half on the way to a 55-13 victory Saturday night in Class 3A playoff action at Noble Stadium.
With the win, the third-ranked Indians (11-2) advance to meet No. 2 Lincoln Christian (13-0) for the Class 3A title at 11 a.m. Dec. 7 at the University of Central Oklahoma. Lincoln gave No. 1 OKC Heritage Hall its first loss of the season Friday, 33-6.
Verdigris’ Jax Ryan booted the opening kickoff out of bounds, but Plainview elected not to take the ball at its 40-yard line but have the Cardinals kick again.
That decision turned out golden because the Indians’ Jaxon Clemons took the kick and motored 75 yards for a touchdown just 11 seconds into the game.
“Plainview is a very good team, and we made some mistakes early,” Verdigris coach Travis East said. “But our kids kept playing. I am really proud of them.”
Plainview added two more touchdowns in the first quarter on a 60-yard run by Tyson Al-Jbour, who led all rushers with 116 yards on 12 carries, and Indians quarterback Brock Parham tallied from 15 yards out — one of three rushing TDs for him.
Parham’s second TD, this one from 5 yards, came midway through the second quarter and made it 28-0.
Parham then tossed a 21-yard TD pass to Blake Nowell just 25 seconds before halftime to give the Indians a 35-point cushion at the break.
The halftime numbers reflected the score.
Plainview had 238 total yards and 11 first downs in the first two quarters while the No. 5 Cardinals (10-3) had just 63 total yards and five first downs.
Another Al-Jbour TD made it a 42-0 contest with 9:15 to play in the third quarter.
Verdigris then put together its best drive of the night.
Taking over on their 29-yard line, quarterback Dylan White connected with Ty Moore for 41 yards. A White pass to Toby Willis for 23 yards gave Verdigris a first-and-goal at the Indians 5-yard line.
Two plays later, Sloan Roller swept around right end for the Cardinals’ first points with 7:52 to play in the third quarter.
Parham’s final TD of the night, a 43-yard dash, and a 31-yard TD run by Blue Norman made it 55-7 with three minutes to play.
Verdigris then took advantage of a bad snap on a Plainview punt and took possession at the Indians’ 5-yard line in the final minutes.
On fourth down, White — a freshman — corralled a bad snap 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and had the presence of mind to look for a receiver downfield. His throw to the end zone was snared by Willis for a TD with 1:27 to play.
Verdigris managed just 5 net yards rushing and White was 15-of-28 passing for 132 yards with two interceptions — both in the first half.
Willis finished with eight catches for 59 yards and the touchdown.
“We plan on big things in the future,” East said. “We hope to get back here again next year.”