Special from the Lawton Constitution
LANGSTON – Against all odds the Anadarko Warriors are back in the state finals, this time in Class 4A.
The Warriors showed a lot of heart and fought off a lot of adversity in a 24-14 win over Wagoner on Friday night at Anderson Stadium on the campus of Langston University. The Warriors have now won 28 straight games.
Anadarko’s defense was the story of the game again. Wagoner took over at Anadarko’s 25-yard line after a Warrior fumble. Anadarko stopped Wagoner on fourth down. The Warriors fumbled again two plays later at their own 30.
No. 2 Wagoner (11-2) got a first down and then Anadarko stopped the Bulldogs on fourth down again inside its own 10-yard line. Those two stops were the key to the win over Wagoner.
“Those stops were huge,” Jackson said. “We lost Russell (Mithlo) and Dakota (Botone) and had some guys in there that hadn’t played much and they came up huge for us. Wagoner is a really good offense ball club and to hold them to 14 points is a pretty good job.
“They know how to win,” Jackson said. “I can’t explain it. I’ve never seen anything like that, in the semifinals with everything going against us and playing the defending state champs and we held them out every time. That just shows the heart that my guys have.”
Wagoner coach Dale Condict concurred.
“There was one play where I thought (Lawrence) Evitt was going to walk in and score but bobbled the handoff and was stopped. There was another time we had them pinned in deep and their quarterback throws a screen pass that goes right through the hands of our defensive end. We capitalize on those two plays and it’s a different game.”
With the win Anadarko advances to the state finals against District 4A-1 rival Clinton who beat Ada, 40-22 Friday. The Warriors won the state title in Class 3A a year ago.
After those stops, Anadarko punted a forced a fumble of its own and took over at own 43-yard line. The Warriors went on a seven-play drive that included a 51-yard run by R.J. Sink who was running on a bum ankle. The Warriors picked up a fourth down inside Wagoner’s five and Sink scored to ice the game.
Wagoner went into a hurry-up offense and moved the ball down the field before losing the ball again to lose.
“This is one that got away,” Condict said. “Anadarko’s a good team but we had our chances and let them slip away.”
Sink rushed for 177 yards on 23 carries. He got hurt midway through the second quarter and missed the rest of the half. He hurt the same ankle on a punt return in the second half, but never quit.
“That was a hard fought battle and we knew it was going to be,” Sink said. “This game could have been the last game of the season and I didn’t want to go out that way. I had to do what I could for the team. I fought the pain. The adrenaline helped ease the pain.”
Sink scored the first touchdown of the game from 17 yards out in the second quarter as Anadarko was able to keep the potent-Bulldog offense off the field for much of the first half. Wagoner finally got its offense on track late in the first half as the state’s leading-rusher Lawrence Evitt scored on an 18-yard run with 25 seconds to go. On the play, Evitt spun out of a crowd after it appeared he was stopped.
Anadarko had an interception called back on the previous play. It was one of just many missed opportunities. Wagoner recovered eight of the first nine fumbles of the game.
Evitt scored again this time from nine yards out with seven minutes to go in the third quarter to put Wagoner up 14-7. It was only the fifth time Anadarko had trailed during the streak. Sink scored on a 64-yard pass just three plays later. After a penalty on Wagoner on the extra point attempt, Anadarko gave the ball to Sink and he waltzed in for the two-point conversion.
That play seemed to change the entire complexion of the game as Anadarko’s defense stiffened even after senior middle linebacker Russell Mithlo was ejected. Fellow senior Galen Satoe stepped up and helped his defense get back on track as the Warriors held Evitt to 143 yards on 32 carries and Wagoner to just 252 total yards.
Anadarko plays Clinton on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.