SHAWNEE — Lottery anyone? The Claremore football team played a little powerball Friday at Shawnee in the first round of the Class 5A football playoffs.
The Zebras plowed over the Wolves with a strong run game for a 21-14 win at Jim Thorpe Stadium.
Claremore (7-4) will now play at No. 1 ranked and undefeated Carl Albert next Friday. Carl Albert defeated Lawton MacArthur 41-15.
Things started slow for both teams, as they traded scoreless possessions for most of the first quarter. But at the end of the first, Claremore broke through with its first power play. On 4th and 2 from the Shawnee 3, quarterback Noah Grimett snuck it to within inches and a first down. On the next play, he drove it home for a 7-0 lead with three seconds to go in the first.
Shawnee, however, was losing its cool. Already with a player ejected for throwing a punch, the Wolves were ineffective offensively. The only substantial play came midway through the second quarter when quarterback Heath Hunter found a streaking Trenton Skinner for a 63-yard gain to the Claremore 5. Two plays later, Braden McGinnis bulled his way in from the 3 to tie the game with 7:33 left in the first half.
Claremore had an answer. Using mostly the run, the Zebras chewed up clock and yardage down to the Shawnee 18 when Grimett zig-zagged his way through the Wolves defense. As he reached the 5 yard line, he powered his way through three Shawnee defenders and into the end zone, giving Claremore a 14-7 lead with 2:36 left in the half.
Hunter found some daylight as time ticked away in the half, and after a long run, was plastered by two Claremore defenders and the ball jarred loose. Josh Teague hopped on the ball at the Claremore 48 with 2:19 left.
Claremore worked the clock and drove into scoring position, but a 28-yard field goal attempt by Carson Highfill was blocked. Claremore 14, Shawnee 7 at the half.
The Zebras came out of the locker room after halftime and marched the field with ease. But as the Zebras reached the red zone, Shawnee’s Randy Harrison recovered a Claremore fumble at the 15.
Hunter and Skinner connected again later in the third for a long touchdown, tying the game at 14 at the 5:30 mark.
The Zebras went back to their bread and butter, running at will up and down the field. Early in the fourth quarter, the Zebras took the lead back with a short power run up the middle by Teague with 14:03 left in the game. Taylor Davis kicked the extra point for a 21-14 lead.
After a quarterback sack by Mickey Bywaters, Quentin Skinner intercepted a Hunter pass at the 41 yard line.
The Zebras couldn’t convert though, and the Wolves stopped Claremore on downs at the Shawnee 39 yard line midway through the fourth.
But another sack by Bywaters forced another Shawnee punt to the Claremore 42.
Following another Claremore punt, Shawnee took over at the 19, and the clock was working against the home team. A long Hunter to LJ McKissick connection, followed by a Hunter pass to Scout Cawvey to the Claremore 14 put the Wolves back in business with less than four minutes remaining.
A penalty on Shawnee moved the ball back to the 25, and a sack by Bywaters forced 4th and 20 with 2:30 left. And Claremore’s Nathan Johnson broke up the fourth-down pass in the end zone.
Grimett plowed for a first down on 4th and 1, and the Zebras ran out the clock for the win.