VERDIGRIS – Good times are here again for the Verdigris Cardinals.
Toby Willis caught three touchdown passes as the home standing Cardinals won a playoff game for the first time in seven years, rolling past Idabel 41-6 on Friday night.
The victory sends seventh-ranked VHS into a quarterfinal date against No. 4 Perkins-Tryon at home next week.
In winning its seventh-straight game, Verdigris (9-2) exploded with four third-quarter touchdowns to put the Warriors out of business.
“We started out a little slow, but our defense played well the entire game,’’ Cardinals coach Travis East said. “Our defense shut down their running game and we intercepted some passes, but the biggest goal was to stop the run.’’
The Cardinals did just that, limiting Idabel to 15 yards on the ground in the second half and 77 overall.
East was particularly worried about quarterback Jalen Ellis and running backs Francisco Corona and Mesiah Block. The trio gained only 48, 13 and 28 yards, respectively.
Meanwhile, VHS freshman quarterback Dylan White hit Willis with four passes for 98 yards, including touchdown tosses of 15, 31 and 28 yards. Freshman running back Caden Parnell led rushers with 75 yards on 13 carries.
“We made penalties early that we shouldn’t be making,’’ East said. “The second half we quit making mistakes. Idabel is a great football team with a lot of good athletes, and our pass rush did some good things. We got after them and forced interceptions.’’
Willis, Hayden Jones and Carson Calvert each picked off Ellis, who was sacked five times and hurried on most of his attempts. The Warriors (6-5) finished 4-of-15 passing for 91 yards.
Verdigris collected 308 yards of total offense while putting the game away in the third period.
Sophomore Evan Anderson returned the second half kickoff 55 yards to the Idabel 25, and Sloan Roller ran six-straight times, scoring from the 2. Freshman Jax Ryan booted the conversion, giving the Cards a 21-0 lead just 2:48 into the half.
On Idabel’s next possession, punter John Wolf bobbled the ball at his 35 and it bounced backward with several players trying to recover. The ball finally crossed the goal line with the Cardinals’ Dylan Collins recovering for the touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
A 13-yard punt by Wolf set up Verdigris at the Warriors’ 31 a couple of minutes later.
On the first play from there, White found Willis who had beaten defender Lamar Rutherford with 4:59 left in the quarter.
VHS made it 41-0 the next time it had the ball, scoring on White’s 28-yard strike to Willis.
The Cardinals drove 75 yards in 12 plays to go ahead 7-0 in the first period on Willis’ 15-yard touchdown reception. Verdigris made it 14-0 in the second frame on a 64-yard series in five plays, scoring on Parnell’s 20-yard run.
Next comes Perkins-Tryon.
“They have lost just one game this year by seven points to the defending state champs (Heritage Hall).’’ East said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been here (the quarterfinals), and now we’ve got to get ready.’’