Once again, Catoosa played meat and potatoes football and a simple diet of run first and pass when necessary was too much for Cleveland to overcome Friday night at McNabb Field.
Coach Aaron Meier’s offensive attack is not fancy, but the Indians ran the table behind junior Devin Hemphill in a 46-20 District 4A-3 victory over the Tigers on Senior Night. Catoosa said hello to its fifth league win and goodbye to Cleveland behind Hemphill‘s 137 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
The Indians, 7-2 overall, remain in second place with a showdown looming next week at Oologah. The Tigers departed 4-5 and 3-3.
As 18 seniors bid farewell, Catoosa survived a wild first quarter, erasing deficits of 14-7 and 20-14 with its patient grind it out scheme. The Tigers opted for flash, scoring on plays of 74, 67 and 76 yards, but four turnovers helped cancel out their cause.
The Indians took the lead for good at 21-20 with 54 seconds remaining in the opening period.
Cleveland quarterback Derrick Reeves fumbled the ball away to Catoosa’s Caleb Roberts at the Tiger 47, allowing the home team to score in two plays. Hemphill bolted the final 14 yards around left end.
A shanked Cleveland punt traveled 15 yards and once again the Indians were in business at the enemy 27. Six plays were needed to make it 28-20 when Hemphill darted the last five yards.
Junior Chase Nevel intercepted a Reeves pass at his 10 and Catoosa ate up 90 yards in 12 plays to lead 34-20 at intermission. Hemphill powered over the middle from five yards away with 6.9 seconds remaining.
The Indians managed two touchdowns in the final quarter to break it open. Hemphill again found the end zone to his liking, scoring from eight yards out as the lead grew to 40-20. Meier’s club moved 39 yards in seven snaps to get Micah Metcalf‘s two-yard TD plunge with 5:59 left.
Quarterback Caleb Wilsey, who completed 6-of-9 passes for 83 yards, put Catoosa up 7-0 early in the game with a 32-yard scoot. But Cleveland only needed three plays to tie the score, coming on Reeves’ 74-yard toss to wide open Chase McWhirt down the sideline. The Tigers scored again the next time they touched the ball.
Dakota Hewitt, who finished with 100 yards on 16 carries, smashed through the Catoosa line for a 67-yard touchdown.
Hemphill dashed 24 yards to tie the game 14-14, capping an 80-yard drive in five plays.
Cleveland followed with another bomb, this one from Reeves to Tyler Myles from 76 yards out. Junior Nathan Varano blocked Myles’ conversion kick, leaving the Indians ahead and with a voracious appetite for points.