One year after watching Derrick Reliford drag Collinsville defenders down the field, the Cardinals still haven’t found a way of stoppping the Claremore running back.
On Friday night, Reliford tallied 165 rushing yards and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 10-yard run in overtime to lead the Zebras past Collinsville, 42-38 in the District 5A-4 opener at Lantow Field.
Reliford’s explosive power and ‘silky-smooth’ moves shined in the second half as he finished with 105 of his 165 yards.
“Derrick’s one of those backs that’s hard to tackle. He’s so shifty with his hips and really puts pressure on opponents with those powerful legs,” Claremore head coach Rob Gilbreath said.
The win over Collinsville improved the Zebras to 3-1 overall and more importantly, 1-0 in district.
“What a great night for the Zebras,” Gilbreath said. “I knew that whoever had the ball last was probably going to win. Thank goodness, it was us.”
Collinsville struck first in overtime with a 29-yard field goal by Sergio Perez that put the Cardinals up 38-35.
Claremore’s defense rose to the occasion throughout the second half, and came up with a huge stop in overtime to hold Collinsville’s offense to only a field goal.
On the ensuing overtime possession, Claremore needed only one play to get the statement victory.
Reliford, who followed the lead block of fullback Bear Hope, took the pitch from quarterback Brinley Brown and scampered into the end zone untouched for the 10-yard touchdown. Jared Vincent booted the extra point and the Zebras closed out the overtime thriller in stunning fashion.
Gilbreath credited the Zebras defense for creating turnovers in the second half and raising their intensity after halftime.
“We had to quit giving up the big play,” Gilbreath said. “Forcing those key turnovers was a difference maker. Hunter Garroutte’s interception late in the fourth quarter was really big because Collinsville was driving the field with an opportunity to win.”
Garroutte’s pick with 2:25 remaining in the game stopped a Collinsville offensive drive that got down to the Claremore 38-yard line.
Collinsville quarterback Shawn Koscheski completed passes of 26 yards to T.J. Johnson and 20 yards to Keenan Hamilton before Garroutte’s interception.
After Claremore went three-and-out on its offensive series in which Collinsville’s defense stopped Caleb Webster’s 7-yard pass from Brown short for a first down, the Cardinals got one last chance with 49 seconds remaining.
Collinsville’s Koscheski marched the Cardinals down the field with timely passes and got the ball to the Claremore 22 yard line with 0:05 remaining.
Koescheski’s pass intended for Johnson in the end zone was broken up by Claremore junior defensive back Dustin Basks to force the overtime period.
“Big time players make big time plays in big time games,” Gilbreath said.
“Basks made a big-time play with that pass breakup.”
Claremore and Collinsville battled back-and-forth in the first half with 63 combined points.
Collinsville struck first on Koscheski’s 10-yard TD run to put the Cardinals up 7-0.
A pair of TD passes from Brown to Webster for 40 and 35 yards gave Claremore a 14-7 lead with 4:16 left in the first quarter.
Koscheski’s 26-yard TD run evened the score at 14-14 to close out the first quarter.
Collinsville went up 28-14 with 6:53 left in the second quarter on Koscheski’s 6-yard TD pass to Dylan Cook and then a 73-yard TD pass to Cook.
But, with 6:41 remaining in the second quarter, Basks took the kickoff 80 yards for a TD that narrowed the deficit at 28-21.
After Basks recovered the fumble at the Collinsville 40 yard line, Brown connected with his talented receiver for an 11-yard TD that tied the game at 28-28 with 2:56 left until halftime.
Collinsville picked off a pair of passes in the closing minutes of the second quarter, including a 30-yard interception return by Marcus Tillman to regain the 35-28 lead and carry the momentum into the locker room.