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Jackets come up short in semifinal

Season ends just shy of the Stillwater goal line

By Ryan Horton
Choctaw Times


Choctaw High School’s hopes for a gold ball ended at Stillwater’s three-yard line Friday night in a Class 6A-II semifinal at Edmond North High School.

Down by four, Choctaw marched down the field in the final minutes of play. The Yellowjackets arrived near the Stillwater red zone with just 44 seconds remaining on the clock.

Choctaw’s defense brings down Stillwater WR Talon Kendrick (PHOTO BY BOB WHITAKER)

In the late-game drive the Yellowjackets would reach just shy of the goal line during the final seconds. Officials would place the ball three yards out as Choctaw hurried to get off one more snap, but with no remaining timeouts, the clock hit zero before that could happen catching the Yellowjackets down 33-29.

The defending state champions narrowly escaped Choctaw to advance to the 6A-II final this week.

The rematch of last year’s state final didn’t disappoint as both teams once again showed they’re Class 6A-II’s elite programs, as both teams combined for over 600 yards of offense on the night.

Stillwater (10-2) jumped out to a two-score lead thanks to touchdowns from Talon Kendrick and Trey Tuck.

Stillwater led 14-0 in the second quarter, but Choctaw’s Yellowjackets were working to sting back.

Choctaw answered by putting up two touchdowns of their own in the final five minutes of the second quarter making it a 14-14 game going into the break.

Speedsters Juju Smith and L.T. Simmons fueled the Yellowjacket offense.

After a slow start, Choctaw’s running backs looked unstoppable in late second and third-quarter efforts.

Choctaw would go on to put up 29 unanswered points taking a 15-point advantage going into the final quarter of play.

Smith ran for 62 yards and a touchdown, threw a touchdown pass on a trick play, and caught three passes for 62 yards.

Simmons ran for 109 yards and a touchdown of his own.

However, Stillwater took notes causing problems for the Choctaw ground game in the final quarter while kickstarting their own ground assault.

Stillwater RB Holden Thompson ran 78 yards in the fourth quarter on his way to 146 yards and a touchdown on the night.

Thompson’s efforts helped the Pioneers counter with three straight scores in the final period. Tan Booth and OSU commit Josh Ford added to Stillwater’s late rally.

And with the 21 unanswered points in the fourth, Choctaw’s hopes of a gold ball came to an end.

The Pioneers captured the lead with under four minutes remaining.

Austin Hubert knocks down a Stillwater pass in the state semifinal (PHOTO BY BOB WHITAKER)

Stillwater QB Chance Acord passed for 136 yards and two touchdowns on the night.

“Hats off to Stillwater. Great team, well coached and they did a great job,” said CHS head coach Jake Corbin. “This was a back-and-forth game, and could have gone either way. Unfortunately, it didn’t go ours.”

Choctaw finished the season 8-2 after qualifying for their fourth state semifinal in the last five years.

“Not what I wanted, but that happens in life sometimes,” said Corbin. “That is the message to the team after this game. It’s how you respond, and I know how these young men will respond, because I know the character that they have. They’re going to be successful and champions in life. Obviously, we want to win a state championship. That’s our goal each and every year, and that will never change. But ultimately, I care about how these guys fight and what kind of young men they are, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The Pioneers improved to 10-2 on the year improving their win streak to 10 straight. Stillwater is now looking to claim back-to-back gold balls as they’ll rematch a team they beat earlier this month in the state final.

Stillwater advanced to take on fourth-ranked Muskogee (10-2) in the Class 6A-II state title game at 1 p.m. Friday at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Chad Richison Stadium in Edmond.

Muskogee defeated Deer Creek (9-3) 36-35 in their semifinal matchup.

The Roughers would win out and claim the title.

Jayden Milsap blocks so QB Cash Williams and Choctaw’s running backs can get the offense moving against Stillwater. (PHOTO BY BOB WHITAKER)



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