Big-time players, make big-time plays in big-time games.
Claremore junior wide receiver Dustin Basks made the ‘biggest’ catch of the game Thursday night with 4:10 remaining in the last “Battle of Rogers County”.
Needing a first down to stay alive in a dog-fight with rival Oologah, Basks caught a 10-yard pass from senior quarterback Brinley Brown to set up Derrick Reliford’s game-winning touchdown.
Reliford’s 5-yard touchdown run propelled the Zebras to a ‘hard-fought’ 17-14 win over Oologah in the season opener before a standing room only crowd at Lantow Field.
“The kid (Basks) is a difference maker,” Oologah head coach Brandon Craig. “We couldn’t stop him on offense. He’s definitely their best player.”
Basks caught seven passes for 137 yards, scored on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Brown and had a fumble recovery in the second quarter.
“Oh, No. 7 (Basks) is pretty special,” Claremore head coach Rob Gilbreath said. “He made some big plays, and played through a lot of pain (cramps).”
Basks’ 42-yard touchdown reception from Brown with 7:09 remaining in the third quarter gave the Zebras their first lead of the night at 10-7.
“My team needed me and the cramps weren’t going to keep me off the field,” Basks said.
Brown, in his first varsity start, offered strong praise for his junior receiver.
“Dustin’s the man,” Brown said. “That fourth down catch was huge. But that’s Dustin. He always come through when we need him.”
Brown completed 10-of-20 passes for 166 yards and one touchdown, but more importantly, rallied his team from 7-3 deficit at halftime.
Oologah struck first in the second quarter, via a fumble recovery inside the Claremore 5-yard line.
With 7:07 remaining, Oologah quarterback Payton Craig put the Mustangs ahead 7-0 on a 3-yard touchdown run.
Claremore answered back with 3:50 remaining in the first half on Jared Vincent’s 25-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 7-3.
Vincent’s field goal was set up by Brown’s 25-yard pass to Basks, who got behind Oologah cornerback Drew Humphrey and moved the ball to the Mustangs 15-yard line.
Gilbreath said that as the game went along, Brown got better and better with his passes.
“You could tell he was gaining more confidence, especially there in the fourth quarter,” Gilbreath added.
After Claremore took the 10-7 lead, Oologah relied heavily on playing ‘smash-mouth’ football behind their 300-pound plus offensive line.
Jimmy McKinney’s 38-yard touchdown run with 0:43 left in the third quarter helped Oologah regain the momentum and the 14-10 lead.
“That’s our philosophy, we want to be able to pound the football behind our offensive line,” Brandon Craig said. “Other than two major turnovers in the red zone, we dominated up front with our running game.”
Oologah’s rushing offense accounted for two touchdowns and 262 yards on 40 carries. McKinney had 162 rushing yards on 16 carries for the Mustangs.
“Tonight’s performance and victory defies TEAM in my book,” Brown said. “We win together and lose together as a team. This one is definitely one we’re going to remember.”
Basks steals the ‘spotlight’ in Claremore's 17-14 win over Oologah
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