Panthers claw their way back to victory over Hominy

Robert Smith
Barnsdall quarterback Joe Cole and his teammates came out flat against Hominy, but at halftime they found their mojo and came rumbling back to win last Friday, 36-33. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

BARNSDALL — The home team trailed all night long, taking the lead for the first time with 2:06 to go on a touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Cole to Braden Kelley that capped an emotional comeback win for the Barnsdall Panthers.

Barnsdall trailed 19-0 to Hominy at the half, after two quarters in which the Panthers had trouble moving the ball. A bad snap and other miscues interrupted the Panthers’ offensive effort.

Hominy scored on its initial possession of the game, with 8:15 to go in the first quarter, to go up 7-0. The Bucks scored again with 1:17 in the opening quarter and took a 13-0 lead. With 1:25 left in the first half, the Bucks scored a third time, extending their lead to 19-0.

Both teams were unbeaten coming into the game, with Barnsdall at 3-0 and Hominy at 2-0. The last time the Panthers had beaten the Bucks was reportedly more than three decades ago, and Barnsdall’s fortunes weren’t looking good.

But with 10:04 left in the third quarter, Cole and receiver Heath Moles brought the home crowd to life with a scoring pass. That cut the Hominy lead to 19-6. But the Bucks came right back, scoring with 8:16 left in the quarter, to go up 25-6.

That didn’t dampen the Panthers’ hunger, however, and Cole scored on a keeper with 6:34 left in the third quarter. Barnsdall laid down a successful onside kick and promptly got the ball back. With 2:56 left in the quarter, Cole scored on another quarterback keeper and the score was Hominy 25, Barnsdall 21. That’s the way the third quarter ended.

Early in the fourth quarter, Hominy mounted its last successful scoring effort of the evening, adding a touchdown and a two-point conversion to its total with 9:23 to go. The Bucks were ahead, 33-21, and looked like they might pull out a win in spite of Barnsdall’s comeback.

The Panthers wouldn’t have it, though. Cole connected again with Moles for a touchdown with 7:48 to play, and Barnsdall added a two-point conversion to make the score 33-28.

With 3:33 left, the Bucks turned the ball over in Barnsdall’s end of the field with an incomplete pass on fourth down. Then, on a third down and six from about the Hominy 40, Cole looked long and diagonally across the field and launched one that Braden Kelley caught for the deciding score. Heath Moles intercepted a Hominy pass to seal the win and the home crowd went nuts.

Barnsdall raised its record to 4-0, and will be in Pawhuska this Friday evening for a battle of unbeatens with the 4-0 Huskies, who are coming off a 20-12 road win over perennial power Morrison.

For Braden Kelley to score the winning touchdown turned out to have a powerful element of poetic coincidence to it. His father, Carl, scored the winning touchdown in 1987 against Hominy — the last time the Panthers beat the Bucks.

Hominy fell to 2-1 and is scheduled to play the Ponca City JV on Thursday night.