By Tommy Cobb
WAGONER – Sallisaw brought a new defensive look to its first round matchup against Wagoner. Despite big plays by the Bulldogs, it worked for the tenth-ranked Black Diamonds — for the first half.
But it was all Wagoner in the second half.
Wagoner’s defense held Sallisaw to just 54 total yards in the second half to go along with a 294-yard rushing performance from Lawrence Evitt as the second-ranked Bulldogs defeated Sallisaw 41-10 at W. L. Odom Stadium on Friday night.
Wagoner (10-1) will host Weatherford (7-4) next Friday night in a Class 4A second round contest.
“They brought something that we had not seen on film,” said Wagoner coach Dale Condict. “We struggled offensively in the first half but once we got to halftime, we were able to make some corrections. I thought the first drive of the second half was the drive of the game.”
Sallisaw (6-5) won the coin toss and chose to take the stiff south wind and kick to start both halves.
Evitt’s 80-yard run on the first play of the game took away some of that advantage. But it was a 13-play drive that chewed up nearly seven minutes off the clock ended with an 11-yard run by Decarius Clark that gave Wagoner a 20-10 lead and changed the complexion of the game.
Wagoner’s defense held Sallisaw to three plays and a punt. The Bulldogs then controlled the remainder of the third quarter and put the game away on a 21-yard pass from Clark to Evitt on the first play of the fourth quarter giving Wagoner a 27-10 lead.
“We had to figure out how their defensive line was rotating,” Clark said. “Our line started blocking and once we got it figured out and knew we had them. When our line is blocking I can hit anyone and Haydn (Ford) made some great catches.”
Clark did not complete a pass in the first half but connected on all six attempts in the second half. Clark connected with Ford on a 12-yard completion and a 26-yard jump ball in which Ford out leaped the defended to make the grab and setup up Evitt’s reception.
“We had been giving up big chunks of yardage so we decided to change some things up,” Sallisaw coach Craig Benson said. “For a half, it was good. But we could never get into any rhythm in the second half. Their defense just smothered us. We tried to get the wind advantage but they took that away.”
Wagoner held the ball for 10:48 in the third quarter and forced Sallisaw into three and outs on their first two possessions. Wagoner’s Denton Bosco picked off Ben Oberste to set up Chris Cravatt’s 4-yard run to make it 34-10.
After Sallisaw converted its only first down of the half with under a minute left, Justus Beets picked off a pass and returned it 83-yards for the final score.
The first half was all Evitt on offense as he rushed for 258 yards and scored on runs of 80 and 54 yards.
After Wagoner took a 6-0 lead, Sallisaw drove and cut the lead to 6-3 on a 55-yard field goal by Sinue Rodriguez. Oberste connected with Devin Harriman on a 40-yard scoring pass to give Sallisaw its only lead at 10-6 with 11:47 left in the second quarter.
WAGONER 41, SALLISAW 10
Sallisaw 3 7 0 0—10
Wagoner 6 7 7 21—41
WHS – Lawrence Evitt 80 run (kick fail) 11:45
SHS – FG, Sinue Rodriguez 55 3:45
SHS – Devin Harriman 40 pass from Ben Oberste (Rodriguez kick) 11:47
WHS – Evitt 54 run (Decarius Clark kick) 4:54
WHS – Clark 11 run (Clark kick) 5:10
WHS – Evitt 21 pass from Clark (Clark kick) 11:50
WHS – Chris Cravatt 4 run (Clark kick) 5:22
WHS – Justus Beets 83 interception return (Clark kick) :24
First Downs 7 14
Rushes-yards 24-83 44-302
Passing yards 109 112
Passes (CAI) 11-24-3 6-10-1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Punts-avg 6-29 4-37
Penalties-yds 2-15 6-56
RUSHING – SHS, Jadon Davenport 14-46; WHS, Lawrence Evitt 23-294.
PASSING – SHS, Ben Oberste 11-24-3 109; WHS, Decarius Clark 6-10-1 112.
RECEIVING – SHS, Devin Harriman 6-88; WHS, Hadyn Ford 5-91.