Huskies rocked in renewal of grid rivalry

Mike Erwinmerwin@examiner-enterprise.com

VERDIGRIS — Just when it looked like the Pawhuska Huskies might survive a scoreless first quarter, the Verdigris Cardinals exploded for 28 points during a six-minute span Friday night.

In an opening night showdown of the high school football season, the Class 3A Cardinals validated their No. 14 preseason ranking by sailing to a 42-7 triumph over the 2A Huskies. The matchup renewed the Pawhuska-Verdigris gridiron rivalry after a four-year hiatus.

Despite struggling throughout the contest to stop the hard-running Cardinals, Pawhuska was still tied with the hosts, 0-0, with under a minute to play in the first quarter. Verdigris took the lead with a 50-yard touchdown drive on its second possession. The first play from scrimmage after the TD resulted in Pawhuska losing a fumble at its 15-yard line. The Cardinals almost scored again before the quarter ended, but a holding call negated the touchdown.

A pivotal play came early in the second period on a fourth-down-and-20 call from the PHS 25. After avoiding the Huskie rush, Verdigris quarterback Reece Phillips found a wide-open receiver (Easton Meaux) at the goal line and the TD play ignited the Cardinals.

Leading 14-0, the hosts got another boost when Pawhuska turned the ball over again — this time via an interception — on its very next offensive play. Three downs later, with 10:24 remaining in the half, a short TD run put the Cardinals up by three touchdowns.

Mother Nature provided the next tough break for the Huskies. A high, well-placed kickoff landed between PHS up-men, bounced backwards and was recovered by Verdigris at the Pawhuska 49. Five plays later, the Cardinal lead went to 28-0 with 10:36 left before halftime.

While making little headway against the stout home defense, the Huskies pinned the Cards deep in their own territory with a punt late in the quarter. About a minute before the half ended, Hayden Javellas intercepted a pass for PHS, but another interception two plays later returned the ball to Verdigris.

The agony resumed immediately after intermission for Pawhuska as Verdigris senior Trenton Dorsey returned the second-half kickoff up the middle of the field for a 76-yard touchdown. Two minutes and three short Huskie gains later, the high-flying Cardinals blocked a PHS punt — which they recovered deep in Huskie territory.

After a defensive stand allowed the visitors to regain possession, the Verdigris defense made its closing statement by stripping the ball from a Huskie ball carrier at around the PHS 15. Another Cardinal then scooped it into the end zone for the TD and the Verdigris placekicker booted his sixth extra point to give the hosts to a 42-point advantage.

Pawhuska’s offensive efforts finally paid off early in the fourth quarter. After a Verdigris drive stalled near midfield, a snap over the head of the Cardinal punter was recovered at the Verdigris 10 by Huskie freshman Raydon Starr.

Two plays later, a pass from PHS quarterback Colton Hindman was pulled down in the end zone by Caleb Bruce, a sophomore standout who then kicked the extra point. The Pawhuska touchdown concluded the game’s scoring with 10:05 remaining to be played.

Despite the trying circumstances, outstanding efforts were given by several Huskie defenders. Especially impressive was freshman lineman Keinen Cheves, who was tenacious in his first-ever varsity appearance.

Pawhuska will face another Class 3A opponent next week. The Huskies are to host the Dewey Bulldoggers in a 7:30 p.m. game at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium.

Verdigris 42, Pawhuska 7

Pawhuska: 0 - 0 - 0 - 7 — 7

Verdigris: 7 - 21 - 14 - 0 — 42

First quarter

V - Dylan Hight 3-yd run (Chris Roberts kick), :45

Second quarter

V - Easton Meaux 25-yd pass from Reece Phillips (Roberts kick), 11:08

V - Austin Senephimmachack 7-yd run (Roberts kick), 10:24

V - Senephimmachack 4-yd run (Roberts kick), 6:36

Third quarter

V - Trenton Dorsey 76-yd kickoff return (Roberts kick), 11:47

V - Seth McLaughlin 8-yard return of recovered fumble (Roberts kick), 6:19

Fourth quarter

P - Caleb Bruce 7-yd pass from Colton Hindman (Caleb Bruce kick), 10:05

Game Statistics

1st downs: P 7, V 17

Rushes-yds: P 23-61, V 47-221

Pass yards: P 26, V 62

Comp-passes-int: P 4-9-2, V 4-12-1

Fumbles lost: P 2, V 0

Punts-avg: P 4-32, V 0-0

Returns-yds: P 4-52, V 6-142

Penalties-yds: P 4-10, V 9-80

Individual stats

PAWHUSKA — Rushing: Warren Graves 5 carries-22 yds, John Bighorse 5-19; Caleb Bruce 8-17, Colton Hindman 3-10, Hayden Javellas 1-minus 2, Mathew Taft 1-minus 5; Passing: Colton Hindman 4 completions-19 attempts-26 yds-1 int-1 TD; Receiving: Marshall Tolson 2 catches-15 yds, Caleb Bruce 1-7-1 TD, Hayden Javellas 1-4.