COLLINSVILLE — Running the ball has been Collinsville’s calling card for years, and 2019 is no different.
However, after Claremore held the Cardinals to less than 50 yards in the first quarter, coach Kevin Jones knew adding an element of misdirection to the offense was his team’s only chance at victory.
Enter Kolten Allphin.
The senior replaced starting quarterback Baylor Weathers, who started the game with minus-16 yards rushing along with an interception on 0-of-3 passing, and his impact was felt almost immediately.
Despite having never played the position before Friday night, Allphin rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries while also throwing for a score in leading Collinsville to a 28-20 win over Claremore in the District 5A-4 opener at Sallee Field.
“Our starting quarterback Baylor Weathers is not a runner,” Jones said. “He does so many things well, but he’s throwing balls behind people when he needs to be perfect or close to perfect. If he’s off, we have to go with a running quarterback — because we have a couple of them — and do what we can do.”
With Allphin’s running ability keeping the Zebra defense off balance, Collinsville upped its rushing yardage to 341 despite managing only 88 yards on the ground in the first half.
He scored on runs of 2 and 49 yards, the former giving the Cardinals a lead they wouldn’t surrender at 21-14 with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter.
“We knew if we couldn’t run the football, we were going to lose,” Jones said. “We got behind our offensive line, our backs ran hard and we squeaked one out.”
Allphin also got it done through the air despite completing only one pass.
Facing fourth-and-13 inside Claremore territory with 4:49 until halftime, Allphin bobbled the snap but managed to recover it in time to sling a prayer to Gage Tacker, who managed to sneak behind the Zebra secondary, for a 30-yard touchdown.
“It was huge,” Jones said. “I told our guys at halftime, we’re lucky we’re not down two touchdowns or more. It all just freakishly worked out. We looked at the video at half, and dropping the snap actually gave us a better chance because we were expecting our tight end Tacker to go unnoticed with our outside zone, but (DeShawn Kinnard) stayed on him. Us dropping the snap gave the play more time to develop.
“It was the play of the night.”
For Claremore (1-3, 0-1 5A-4), the trend of lackluster second-half performances continued.
Through four games, the Zebras have been outscored 90-33 after halftime. That is a stark contrast from their 57-42 advantage in first halves.
Collinsville (3-1, 1-0) was the latest team to expose the glaring weakness, scoring 21 of the 27 second-half points after trailing 14-7 at the break.
The Cardinals’ rushing attack had a lot to do with that.
Claremore’s run defense, which surrendered a combined 771 yards rushing in losses to Sapulpa and Edison, looked much improved early, but Collinsville eventually broke through, racking up 253 yards rushing in the second half alone.
The Cardinals — led by Jeran Seabolt, Brayden Gilkey and Allphin — recorded runs of 38 (TD), 52, 41 and 49 (TD) during their second-half rally.
Seabolt finished with 166 yards rushing and a touchdown on 14 carries, while Gilkey tallied eight touches for 74 yards.
Claremore’s offense took a dip during that time as well.
The Zebras were held to only 108 yards in the second half, 80 less than their first-half total.
Claremore rushed for 94 yards, averaging about 3.4 yards per carry.
Air Force commit Jace Hightower was held to 36 yards rushing on 17 carries.
“We got a break or two there in the first half, and we didn’t get those breaks in the second half,” Claremore coach Jarrett Hurt said. “They did a great job of stopping the run.”
With only six seconds until halftime and the ball on the Collinsville 2, Hurt could’ve easily opted for a field goal.
Running the ball wasn’t an option because the Zebras were out of timeouts, so he decided to trust the connection between quarterback Charlie Murdock and receiver Dylan Kedzior.
They didn’t disappoint.
Murdock threw a perfectly placed fade to the corner of the end zone, and Kedzior hauled it in to give Claremore a 14-7 lead only moments after the pair hooked up for a 44-yard gain.
It was the second touchdown connection for the two, the first coming on a 8-yard strike early in the first quarter.
Unfortunately, Kedzior was held without a catch in the second half. He finished with 85 yards receiving on five receptions.
“They tried to take Kedzior out of the game in the throwing game,” Hurt said. “Sometimes they had as many as two guys on him at the line of scrimmage. They made it very tough for us to get it to him.”
Brooks Sherl also had a standout performance in the passing game, snagging six catches for 68 yards.
Murdock tallied 202 yards through the air and three touchdowns on 16-of-26 passing. After completing 11 of 14 passes for 146 yards in the first half, the senior was held to only 56 yards on 5-of-12 passing in the second half.
His final touchdown came with 2:15 remaining in the game when he found Kinnard for a 20-yard score.
Claremore looks to get back in the win column when it hosts East Central (2-2, 1-0) for Homecoming at 7 p.m. Friday at Lantow Field.
The Eagles handled Memorial, 60-14, in their district opener on Friday night.
“We have everything out in front of us,” Hurt said. “We were 1-3 last year at this time and ended up going to the state quarterfinals.
I know our guys have a lot left in the tank, and we’re looking forward to playing at home this week for Homecoming.”