Panthers bests Woodland, 48-33, to improve to 7-3

Robert Smith and Mike Tupa
Barnsdall Panthers senior receiver and defensive back Heath Moles is shown here during Senior Night recognitions Friday, escorted by family members. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

BARNSDALL — The Barnsdall Panthers built a 28-7 lead by halftime Friday and held off the Woodland Cougars, 48-33, to improve to 7-3 for the season and make the Oklahoma Class A playoffs.

It was senior night at Barnsdall and seniors made critical plays early in the game, to establish the home team’s advantage. Woodland received the ball first, but fumbled and Barnsdall took over at the Cougars’ 46-yard line with less than a minute elapsed in the first quarter.

Barnsdall senior running back Michael Marin gained about six yards on first down, to the Woodland 40, and senior quarterback Joe Cole ran for about 25 yards on the next play, setting the Panthers up at the Woodland 15. Marin scored on a run two plays later, and Barnsdall took a 6-0 lead. The extra-point kick was blocked.

Woodland appeared poised to begin its next possession in Barnsdall territory, but a holding call on the kick return nullified that result and the Cougars started at about their own 34. They were unable to move the ball and a short, wobbly punt on fourth down gave Barnsdall the ball at Woodland’s 44.

Michael Marin appeared to score, running the ball in on a pitch from Cole, but the refs penalized Barnsdall for a block in the back. The Panthers were not to be denied, however. A couple of plays later, Marin ran to about the Woodland 13, and Cole ended up scoring on a quarterback keeper with 6:39 left in the opening period. The Panthers converted for two points and took a 14-0 lead.

Later in the same period, with a little over three and a half minutes left, senior receiver and defensive back Heath Moles intercepted a Woodland pass and returned it to about the Cougars’ 33-yard line. Michael Marin ran for a touchdown with 2:10 left in the quarter, a two-point conversion attempt failed and the Panthers led 20-0. That was the score at the end of the first quarter.

Cole connected with senior wideout and kicker Braden Kelley with 5:14 left in the opening half for Barnsdall’s fourth touchdown of the evening, and the Panthers converted for two more points to go up, 28-0.

It appeared Barnsdall might go into the locker room at halftime up 28-0, but the Panthers stubbornly attempted to convert on a fourth down in their own end and Cole came up short of the needed yardage on a keeper with 1:32 to go. Woodland capitalized on the opportunity and scored on a touchdown pass with 17 seconds left in the half.

The score at intermission was Barnsdall 28 and Woodland 7.

In the second half, Barnsdall did what it had to do to finish 4-3 in District A-5 and make the playoffs. The Panthers also enjoyed a big assist from Hominy High School that could drastically make Barnsdall’s postseason road smoother. Had it not been for Hominy’s 30-12 upset Friday of Morrison, then Barnsdall would have dropped to fourth place and would have had to open the playoffs against the No. 1 seed from District A-6.

As things stand, the Panthers are in a tie for third place in District A-5 with Morrison (6-3, 4-3). Barnsdall will be rooting next Friday — on its bye week — for Hominy, 6-3, to come out on top versus Tonkawa, 5-4.

In last Friday’s game at Barnsdall, the Panthers were boosted by the boisterous effort of Mike “Human Dynamite” Marin. Marin erupted for 235 total yards, four touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

He rushed 21 times for 175 yards and four scores, and also hauled in four catches for 60 yards.

The production raised his career totals to approximately 5,200 yards and 51 touchdowns.

For the season, Marin is at about 1,300 rushing yards and 16 scores.

Joe Cole completed 14-of-26 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns against Woodland. He also ran for 70 yards on nine carries, a touchdown and two-point conversion.

Josh Weber made two catches for 70 yards and a score on a 56-yard play; Heath Moles grabbed three catches for 70 yards. He did take a ball to the house — but the play was negated by a penalty.

Three of Cole’s passes found their way into the hands of Braden Kelley for 31 yards, a touchdown and a two-pointer.

Moles and Cole both played strong on the defensive side, Barnsdall head coach Kylee Sweeney added.

The key play at the end was stopping Woodland on a two-pointer after its final touchdown.

Had Woodland converted, then Barnsdall wouldn’t have gotten its 15 district points and been on the verge of the No. 3 seed.

Barnsdall led late, 48-27, when Woodland returned a kickoff approximately 60 yards with time running out.

Woodland scored to close within 15, 48-33, and went for two points.

“We had heard that Hominy had won, 30-12, but our players didn’t know that,” Sweeney explained. “We called time out to make sure they knew how important it was to stop the two-point conversion.”

Barnsdall halted the attempt and “that solidified us in the playoffs,” Sweeney said.

The district points scenario favors Barnsdall with 27, followed by Hominy with 12 and Morrison with 10.

Even if Hominy were to earn the maximum 15 district points next week against Tonkawa, it could only tie Barnsdall with 27 — and Barnsdall owns the head-to-head advantage.