Huskies thwart Bucks in stunner

Robert Smith
Pawhuska’s Easton Kirk, No. 22, carries the ball for the Huskies against the Bucks Friday night at Pawhuska High School. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

A fair amount has been made of the Pawhuska football program’s resurgence this season under the leadership of new head coach Matt Hennesy. The Huskies entered their Friday contest against Hominy with a 4-3 record.

All four of those wins had been on the road, however. The Huskies took a step forward Friday by pulling out a last-minute win at home against previously 5-1 Hominy, by a score of 44-38.

“The biggest thing was our young kids grew up a little bit,” Hennesy said, explaining the team showed it could deal with adversity. Pawhuska led Hominy by a score of 38-14 with 2:27 left in the third quarter and appeared to be well on the way to a possible blowout win over the Bucks.

But Hominy came storming back, and with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter the Pawhuska lead had been entirely erased. The game stood at 38-38 and Hominy appeared poised to snatch the victory away in front of the Huskies’ home crowd. Following the game, Hennesy expressed respect for the Hominy players who brought their team back from a 24-point deficit.

After receiving a kickoff from the Bucks, the Huskies set to work with 6:14 left and ground out two first downs. The possession bogged down at that point, though, and Pawhuska fans were vocally upset by the game officials’ failure to call pass interference on two consecutive long pass attempts. The Huskies turned the ball over on downs at the Hominy 49-yard line with just under three minutes left.

The Huskies’ defense stiffened, with Easton Kirk making a key tackle for a Hominy loss, and then Kirk ended the Hominy possession by intercepting a pass. Pawhuska took over in the Hominy end of the field with 1:28 left and, with 39.5 seconds to go, a diving Kirk caught what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the back of the Hominy end zone.

Things didn’t end there, however. After receiving a kickoff, Hominy began its last possession at its own 38-yard line with 34 seconds left. With help from a 15-yard penalty, the Bucks managed to advance the ball inside the Pawhuska 40-yard line with 10.6 seconds to go. That’s when Pawhuska freshman Dalton Hurd capped the victory by intercepting a Hominy pass.

Jubilant Pawhuska fans ran onto the field to join the team in post-game celebrations. The win came on Pawhuska’s Cancer Awareness night, when the players wore pink jerseys. Names of people who have battled cancer were on the backs of the jerseys. There was a silent auction for the jerseys during the game, to raise money to be donated to a local family.

Hennesy composed a message that the public-address announcer read to fans before the game. “Cancer is an opponent tougher than any we face in sports,” the coach said, in part.

Another Pawhuska player who had a fine game Friday was Cade McNeil, who caught three touchdown passes and snagged two interceptions. He also had pass receptions for first downs that kept PHS drives alive. Overall, McNeil had eight receptions for 148 yards.

Bryce Drummond rushed for two touchdowns, and Kirk joined Drummond in making numerous tough runs. Kirk amassed 151 rushing yards on the night. Drummond was 17 of 26 passing, for 268 yards and four touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, Drummond led the way with 17 tackles, followed closely by Hunter Reed, who had 15 stops.

Pawhuska’s victory over Hominy came on a night when Tonkawa improved to 7-1 by beating Morrison, and Barnsdall fell to 4-4 with a loss at Pawnee.

The Huskies have a bye this coming Friday and are next scheduled to play on Oct. 26 against Langston Hughes.