Huskies build lead and hang on to beat Conquerors

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Pawhuska Huskies led all evening in their 2020 home football opener Friday, but the Victory Christian Conquerors never gave up, the result being a 60-47 Pawhuska win.

The Huskies improved their record to 2-0, while the Conquerors fell to 0-2, but the visitors used their deep passing along the sidelines to loosen up Pawhuska's defense on a muggy night at Ormond Beach Memorial Stadium.

Pawhuska led 40-20 at the half, and 54-27 at the end of three quarters. VIctory Christian scored its last touchdown with 25.8 seconds to go in the game, cutting the Huskies' lead to 13.

The game was about offensive fireworks from the very beginning, as Pawhuska's Mason Gilkey appeared to run the opening kickoff back 101 yards for a touchdown. An illegal block in the back by Pawhuska at the Victory 25-yard line caused the touchdown to be nullified, but the Huskies began their possession at the Victory 35 and scored four plays later. Pawhuska made a two-point conversion and went up, 8-0.

After Victory turned over the ball on a bad punt snap with 8:02 left in the opening quarter, Pawhuska began its possession on the Conquerors' 17-yard line and promptly  cashed in, with quarterback Bryce Drummond throwing a sideline pass to Dalton Hurd, who broke loose and sprinted into the end zone. A two-point throw from Drummond to Jack Long made it 16-0.

Victory then got on the scoreboard, making it 16-6, but the Huskies came right back with Hagen McGuire rumbling down the right side to the Victory 5-yard line and setting up what looked like a probable Pawhuska score. The Victory defense held on, however, and the Huskies turned the ball over on downs.

Pawhuska eventually closed out the first quarter with a touchdown throw from Drummond to a wide-open Gilkey, made a two-point conversion, and led 24-6.

After a second quarter that saw Victory Christian put up two scores and begin to mount a challenge to Pawhuska, the second half began with a Victory ball carrier breaking loose on fourth down for the needed yardage and considerably more, but the ball was stripped away and Pawhuska recovered on its own 3-yard line.

On the next play, Drummond hit Jack Long with a sideline pass, and Long broke free for a 97-yard touchdown. The two-point attempt failed and Pawhuska led, 46-20.

Victory Christian's offense posed a continuing threat to the Huskies' defense, particularly through the air. Pawhuska countered by making adjustments on defense. One apparent adjustment involved Bryce Drummond spending multiple series of downs playing on the defensive side of the ball.

Drummond played both ways most of his sophomore year, but beginning last year -- his junior campaign -- he became pretty much exclusively an offensive player. Friday night, however, Drummond played in the defensive backfield to help counter the Victory passing attack.

Drummond's size (6-feet-4 inches tall and 210 pounds), combined with his athleticism and aggressiveness (he played linebacker on defense as a sophomore), made him an ideal supplement to the pass defense. By the end of the evening, though, he was noticeably fatigued on the Pawhuska sideline.

Pawhuska will not play this coming Friday, Sept. 11, but will have another home game at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, versus Hominy. The 1-1 Bucks are an in-county rival, and the contest should draw a lively crowd from both Pawhuska and Hominy.