Creek sees successful season come to an end

By T. Scott Boatright

MONROE — It’s no secret halftime adjustments can change a football game in a hurry, especially in a defensively-dominated contest.

Ouachita Christian showed just that by scoring 28 points in the third quarter as the Eagles broke open a tight game to top Cedar Creek 35-7 in the first round of the Division IV playoffs Friday night at the Eagles Nest.  

The Eagles soared out of the gates to start the game, scoring on its opening possession after five offensive snaps to take a 7-0 lead with eight minutes left in the first quarter.

Then the hard-hitting defensive slugfest began, with both teams shutting the other down until the 4:42 mark of the second quarter when Cedar Creek quarterback Caden Middleton fired a 23-yard scoring strike to Ladd Thompson, who also recorded two of the Cougars’ four interceptions on the night.

With the game tied 7-7 at the halftime (the Eagles had a chance for a late first-half score but their wide open receiver dropped a pass in the end zone), OCS came out in the third quarter and made an offensive change, moving from a run-pass option offense led by quarterback Landon Graves to a more straight-forward rushing play calling for Graves with the Eagles’ offensive line shifting to straight ahead blocking with Graves taking off on QB draws.

A 42-yard run by Graves set up his own one-yard quarterback sneak a play later that put the Eagles on top 14-7 at the 10:47 mark of the third quarter.

Graves was only getting started.

OCS pushed its lead to 21-7 at the 6:26 mark of the third quarter as Graves broke several tackles en route to an 11-yard scoring scamper.

Graves led running back Trey Strickland do the honors for the Eagles third score of the stanza as Graves’ 35-yard run set up a one-yard plunge to paydirt by Strickland that stretched the Eagles lead to 28-7 with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter.

As Cedar Creek’s defense started counter adjusting and slowing down the OCS rushing assault, the Eagles turned to a little razzle dazzle for their final touchdown as Graves handed off a reverse to Tristan Wiley, who dished off the double reverse to running back/No. 2 quarterback Zach White, who put on the brakes and lofted a pass to a wide-open White waiting in the end zone for the touchdown reception.

But the Eagles’ win was still all about defense.

OCS totaled 327 total yards of offense while holding Cedar Creek to 70. The Eagles rushed the ball 29 times for 327 yards while allowing the Cougars only 28 yards on 32 carries.

Graves led the OCS ground attack with 10 carries for 134 yards and his two scores while also connecting on 10-of-26 passes for 134 yards.

Strickland added 33 yards and his touchdown on 18 carries for the Eagles.

AJ Thomas was Cedar Creek’s top rusher with 24 yards on five carries while Jed Worthey with nine yards on 12 carries. Middleton completed six-of-17 passes for 42 yards and Thompson led Cedar Creek receivers with three catches for 37 yards and his score.

“To be honest with you, we were just really bad offensively tonight,” said Cougars coach Matt Middleton. “Our defense played extremely well early but we just never got much going offensively and that really hurt us. Graves caught us off guard there early in the third quarter, but they’re a really good football team. The double-reverse pass was kind of wild, but it was just that kind of night.”

But only losing three seniors from this year’s squad, Middleton said he feels the future is bright for his Cougars while admitting the loss was painful.

“I’ve been proud of this team all year. We’ve got a lot coming back. I’m pretty emotional right now, but we’ll get through it. We’ll be back next season.”

Photo: Tim Smith

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