Missed opportunities in the red zone as well as three interceptions plagued the Claremore Zebras Friday night against No. 5 Shawnee in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
Shawnee took advantage of those miscues, built a 21-0 halftime lead and rode the offensive prowess of quarterback John Jacobs for a 42-14 win over Claremore.
“We didn’t have our best effort tonight,” Claremore head coach Rob Gilbreath said. “They got the turnovers and we didn’t. At this time of the season, you’ve got to be on top of your game, and not making mistakes.”
Shawnee (9-2) took a 6-0 lead with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter on Dillon Dutton’s 12-yard touchdown run, that was aided by a crucial personal foul call against Claremore on fourth down.
“That call (the late hit on Jacobs) really changed the momentum of the game,” Gilbreath said.
One series later, in the second quarter, Shawnee marched 96 yards on nine plays — thanks to Jacobs’ 61-yard pass to Chris Lester — that set up the 5-yard touchdown run by Jacobs. Jacobs’ two-point conversion pass to Lester put Shawnee up 14-0 with 5:07 left until halftime.
Claremore’s offense got inside the Shawnee goal-line twice in the first half, but was unable to put points on the board.
Shawnee defensive end T.J. Blochowiak wrapped up Claremore running back Derrick Reliford on both attempts that halted scoring opportunities for the Zebras.
“We score two times there in second quarter, and it’s 21-14 going into halftime,” Gilbreath said. “Give credit to Shawnee’s defense. They are awfully good and big up front. We knew coming in, if we could establish our running game and win the battle in the trenches, we had a good chance at being successful.”
Shawnee capitalized on a pair of interceptions from Claremore senior quarterback Brinley Brown in the first half.
Blochowiak’s interception with 1:01 remaining got Shawnee inside the Claremore 10-yard line before being chased down and tackled by Brown.
One play later, Shawnee’s Jacobs lifted a 16-yard touchdown pass over the defensive coverage of Hunter Garroutte and Dustin Basks into the hands of Cole Humphrey. Cade Dixon booted the extra-point and Shawnee led 21-0 at halftime.
Dutton got Shawnee rolling early in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run that capped off a 9-play, 80-yard drive and extended the Wolves’ lead to 28-0.
On Claremore’s ensuing series, the ‘Dynamic Duo’ of Brown to Basks paid off and led to a 51-yard touchdown reception with 6:01 remaining in the third quarter that trimmed the deficit to 28-7.
Shawnee, moments later, converted a fake punt for a 16-yard gain, and then answered with 50 seconds left in the third quarter on Jacobs’ 16-yard touchdown down to go up 35-7.
Shortly, thereafter, Brown’s third interception of the game — picked off by Shawnee safety Josh Morgan — led to Dutton’s 1-yard touchdown run with 11:57 remaining in the game. The score put Shawnee up 42-7.
Claremore’s final touchdown came on an amazing 93-yard punt return by Basks with 6:08 remaining.
“Despite the outcome of the game, I’m proud of this team and the way they fought til the end,” Gilbreath said. “We’re a lot better team than what we showed tonight. These seniors are a great group of kids and will be hard to replace.”