Huskies show grit against Bulldoggers

Chris Day |
Pawhuska quarterback Tre Harper (20) rolls out against Dewey during Friday night’s football game. Harper will start Friday night against Hominy. Chris Day/Journal-Capital

DEWEY — The chant of ‘Defense! Defense! Defense!’ reverberated through the stadium at Dewey Friday night. It was late in the fourth quarter, Dewey led Pawhuska 43-6, and the Bulldoggers seemed poised to add to their lead.

The chant came from the Pawhuska sideline. It intensified when Dewey moved to a first and goal at the Pawhuska 10, and the Huskies defense responded with three tackles for losses as time expired.

The Huskies sideline largely has been quiet in the first two games of the season — losses to Kellyville and Morrison. Friday night in Dewey, adversity — the suspension of a handful of Pawhuska football players for missing practice — brought grit, determination and unity to PHS.

PHS coach Joe Tillman noticed it, and praised his players for it.

“We have rules on this team. The players have to abide by this rules. I am proud of the 14 that did play and happy with their performance,” Tillman said.

Pawhuska had just 14 players eligible to play against Dewey. Many played in unfamiliar positions, and, for some, it was their first chance to start a game on offense or defense.

Yes, it was a 43-6 loss for the Huskies, now 0-3, but it built character and promoted unity.

High points

Pawhuska limited Dewey to a touchdown and 2-point conversion in the second half. Dewey bolted out to a 35-0 lead, but two things happened over the next two and a half quarters.

Pawhuska broke a seven-plus quarter scoring slump in the second quarter. Kellyville held Pawhuska scoreless in the second half of the season opener. In the Pawhuska home opener, Morrison shut out the Huskies 56-0.

Then it happened. Dewey kicked off to Pawhuska — a little pooch kick that the Huskies easily caught. PHS had the ball at its own 44 with about 5:30 left in the half.

PHS had installed Tre Harper at quarterback and moved Cade McNeil to receiver early in the second quarter. The switch started paying off. On the first play from scrimmage, it was Harper to McNeil for a 24-yard catch and run. One play later, the Harper to McNeil connection struck again on a 22-yard pitch and catch. Harper rushed for 10, and Hunter Reed scored from the 1.

The Huskies second-half defense was the other high point. Dewey played its starters in the third quarter, and PHS limited Dewey to a touchdown, and 2-point conversion. The 14 Huskies also showed poise and potential in the fourth quarter by keeping the Bulldoggers out of the end zone, including the goal-line stand to end the game.

“I’m just awful proud of them and the effort,” Tillman said. “We still have a long way to go, but I saw some silver linings in there.”

The standouts

The Huskies Offensive Players of the Game were Harper and McNeil, Tillman said. The combined for five completions and 99 yards of offense.

Hunter Reed was the Huskies Defense Player of the Game. He recorded 18 tackles, including 11 solo stops.

Tillman also mentioned Kris and William Walls, Tristian McCartney and Caleb Drummond for their play against Dewey.

Battle of the Osage

Pawhuska travels 20 minutes south to Hominy Friday night for the Battle on the Osage. Kickoff is 7 p.m. The Hominy Bucks are 0-1 this season. They lost to Cleveland 28-6 on Aug. 31.

Tillman said the players suspended for the Dewey game will be available to play against Hominy. However, the Huskies still will be shorthanded.

McNeil sprained his ankle against Dewey. Tillman learned earlier this week that McNeil also tore ligaments in the ankle. McNeil will be out for a few weeks. Pawhuska also lost senior running back Brian Jeffers who has spiral fractures on one of his hands. Jeffers will be able to play defense, but won’t play on offense.

Harper will start at quarterback, and sophomore R.J. McCann will get more playing time at the running back position. Tillman also was toying with the idea of using a wildcat formation with running back Hunter Reed in the shotgun formation.

Hominy is a traditional football school and town, Tillman said. It’s an emotional, rivalry game for the players. The Bucks will run a spread formation with three to five wideouts.

“They are big and physical,” Tillman said.