Huskies’ 2021 playoff run ends in semifinal

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Huskies are the pride and joy of Pawhuska, but there will be no more football playoff glory for them this year.

Three times last Friday night, the Huskies took a lead over the Cashion Wildcats, but all three times the Wildcats came back.

Pawhuska finished its 2021 season with a record of 11-3. The Huskies won the District A-5 title for the second consecutive year and advanced to the fourth round of the state playoffs.

Cashion, now 12-1, will face Ringling, 14-0, for the Class A championship on Saturday, Dec. 11 at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Pawhuska received the ball first Friday, and moved it from its own 33-yard line to the Cashion 2-yard line before the drive stalled. Senior kicker Cooper Kyler gave the Huskies a 3-0 lead with a field goal.

On its first possession, Cashion displayed a quarterback run game that the Huskies found difficult to contain. The Wildcats scored a touchdown on a run of about 40 yards with 5:05 left in the opening quarter. The extra point attempt failed and Cashion led, 6-3.

The first quarter ended with the score still 6-3 in favor of Cashion. The Wildcats scored again, with 8:36 left in the second quarter, this time on a touchdown pass. They made the extra point kick and extended their lead to 13-3.

Down by 10 points, the Huskies quickly drove about 65 yards, with senior receiver Dalton Hurd making a key catch. Tyrel Richardson muscled his way into the Cashion end zone on a 16-yard run to make the score 13-9. Hurd caught a jump pass on the two-point try to narrow the gap to 13-11.

Cashion immediately struck back, scoring on a one-play drive of about 80 yards. With 6:34 left in the first half, the Wildcats went up, 20-11.

The Huskies began their next possession at their own 20-yard line and marched 80 yards for a score. Pawhuska quarterback Todd Drummond threw to senior receiver Mason Gilkey for the touchdown, and Kyler kicked the point after with 3:08 to go in the half. Tyrel Richardson made several long gains on the drive.

The score remained 20-18 at the half. Hurd intercepted a Cashion pass on the last play before the intermission.

Cashion received the ball first in the third quarter, but the Huskies’ defense forced the Wildcats to punt from their own 14-yard line. Hurd fielded the kick and returned it to the Cashion 24.

Pawhuska was unable to move the ball much, and Kyler gave the Huskies a 21-20 lead with his second field goal of the night.

Cashion began its second possession of the quarter at its own 20-yard line, after Kyler booted the ball into the end zone on the kickoff.

The Wildcats then commenced a clock-eating drive that culminated with 25.3 seconds left in the period. Cashion scored and made a two-point conversion to take a 28-21 lead.

In the fourth quarter, the Huskies scored 10 consecutive points — a 37-yard field goal by Kyler, and a touchdown by Tyrel Richardson — to take a 31-28 lead.

The Huskies needed a defensive stop at that point to allow their offense to put up additional points, but it was not to be.

Cashion scored with about 3 and a half minutes left in the game and went up once more, 35-31.

Drummond brought the Huskies back, and Pawhuska moved inside the Cashion 25-yard line before the drive stalled. Pawhuska turned the ball over on downs with 1:29 left and Cashion ran out the clock.

The 2021 semifinal proved to be a far different game than the 7-6 decision that Pawhuska lost to Cashion in 2020. The 2020 game was much more of a defensive struggle, while the game Friday offered numerous offensive highlights for both teams.

Both Pawhuska and Cashion played spirited football, but the game was clean — no unsportsmanlike conduct fouls on either side. This might be the last time the two schools play in a postseason setting, as Pawhuska is expected to move up next season to 2A.

Friday also marked the final appearances for Pawhuska of several outstanding senior players. If you want to see Mason Gilkey play next season, you may have to drive to Stillwater.

Pawhuska has been to the playoffs four straight seasons. Its overall record in that period has been 40 wins, 11 losses.