Sports Sunday Correspondent
At halftime Friday night, the Skiatook Bulldogs had no
rushing yards, no passing yards and no first downs.
And, thanks largely to a handful of Claremore errors, Skiatook managed to forge
an 11-11 tie after the first 24 minutes of their District 5A-4 high school football game.
In the second half, Claremore's offense finally caught up with the defense,
and the Zebras ended their five-game winless streak, with a 26-11 victory over the Bulldogs
in front of a large Homecoming crowd at Lantow Field.
Junior quarterback Blake Grauer threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns,
and the Zebra defense continually denied Skiatook's ineffective offense, to
give Claremore a 1-2 district record (1-5 overall) to keep the young
team in the hunt for a berth in the post-season.
"I gave a game ball to the defense. They played outstanding football,"
head coach Keith Bell said. "The kids had a chance to fold their tent when we got
behind, but everyone played very hard and I'm real proud of them."
The score remained tied at 11 until junior Cory Jefferis kicked a 40-yard
field goal with just over a minute to go in the third quarter, putting the
Zebras ahead for good.
In the fourth quarter, Grauer found Bottoms for a 15-yard scoring strike and
a 20-11 lead. That score capped a nice drive that saw the
quarterback hit on four of six passes, two to sophomore fullback Jeremy Irvin, a
15-yard toss to junior Derek Keniston and the TD pass. Sandwiched between
were two big runs by junior tailback Timmy Butcher that moved the ball deep
into Skiatook territory.
"Those receivers make my job a lot easier. I trust them 100 percent to go
get the ball," said Grauer, who connected on 10 of his 22 passes. "We are
all getting better each week on both sides of the ball."
The Bulldogs (1-6, 0-3) had just one first down for the game. They used it,
a 52-yard pass play from Jason Vail to Emmett Wood, to set up a
first-and-goal at the Claremore eight.
However, a defensive stand led by Trevor
Grubb, David Gordon and Andy Blackard kept the Bulldogs out of the endzone,
forcing them to attempt a 25-yard field goal that ended up way short.
The Zebras then went 80 yards on 10 plays, with Grauer hooking up with
Bottoms again for 22 yards and a touchdown.
"The defense was outstanding," co-defensive coordinator Mark
Morgan said. "Those two inside boys (Gordon and Blackard) couldn't be blocked and
wouldn't let Skiatook run inside. Colby Bonham played real well and Josh
Holland, no doubt, played his best game of the year."
"Defensively, one key was stopping the fullback," said linebackers coach
Derby Kinnard. "We put Trevor on the fullback and he hardly did anything the
whole game. It was a great effort."
Skiatook went ahead, 3-0, on its second possession with a 25-yard field goal by
Cameron Paulk. The Zebras grabbed the lead midway of the second
quarter when Grauer connected with Keniston for 40 yards and a score. Casey
Cook ran in the two-point conversion and Claremore went up, 8-3.
"It felt good," said Keniston. "Everyone's been working real hard, and it's
good to finally win one."
Skiatook went in front, 11-8, but Jefferis tied it with a 38-yard field goal with
just over a minute to go in the first half.
CLAREMORE 26, SKIATOOK 11
Skiatook 3 8 0 0 — 11
Claremore 0 11 3 12 — 26
Skiatook — FG, Paulk 25
Claremore — Keniston 40 pass from Grauer (Cook run)
Skiatook — Taylor 4 run (Taylor pass from Vail)
Claremore — FG, Jefferis 38
Claremore — FG, Jefferis 40
Claremore — Bottoms 15 pass from Grauer (kick failed)
Claremore — Bottoms 22 pass from Grauer (kick failed)
Rushing — Timmy Butcher 15-64; Blake Grauer 7-23; Jeremy Irvin 7-22; Jesse Bickell 6-8.
Passing — Blake Grauer 10-22-212, 3TD.
Receiving — Derek Keniston 3-101, TD; Chris Bottoms 3-56, 2TD; Jeremy Irvin 2-46; Ryan Foster 2-9.
Rushing — Terrell Beard 5-6; Aaron Tomlinson 1-0; Newly Taylor 1-(-4), TD; Jason Vail 5-(-18).
Passing — Jason Vail 4-12-60 .
Receiving — Emmett Wood 3-52. Newly Taylor 1-8.