Top-ranked OCS pulls away late from Cougars

Caden Middleton completed 13-of-18 passes for 91 yards Friday night. (Photo by Tim Smith)

By Malcolm Butler

No. 1 ranked Ouachita Christian used two late touchdowns to pull away from Cedar Creek as the Eagles defeated the Cougars 34-10 Friday night in Monroe.

The Cougars (5-3, 2-1) saw their five-game winning streak snapped but didn’t go down without a fight.

However it was some missed opportunities offensively in OCS territory that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.

“We had a couple of turnovers that hurt us,” said Creek head coach Matt Middleton. “Especially the fumble inside their end of the field. Watch film I think he may have walked if he doesn’t fumble it. We only punted once, but the two turnovers hurt us.”

OCS (7-1) wasted little time in jumping out on top, taking the opening kickoff and driving 51 yards on five plays to grab a 6-0 lead on a 15-yard TD pass with 10:12 to play in the opening quarter.

Creek responded by driving inside the Eagles 30-yard line, highlighted by a 20-yard hookup from Caden Middleton to Lawson Lillo. The drive stalled on an interception on a fourth down and 13 play.

The Cougars took their first five possessions of the game inside the OCS 40-yard line, but only managed 10 points in the game.

“We only got 10 points, but we did move the ball,” said Middleton. “That was a concern of mine coming into this game. We had some opportunities to get points and we didn’t do it. We left some points on the field tonight, but we still have a lot of football to play.”

On the Cougar second drive of the night following an OCS punt, the Cougars once again marched into Eagles territory before a fumble on an inside screen play was recovered by the home team.

The Eagles struck again on a 58-yard TD strike as the two-point conversion made the score 14-0.

Austin Webb got the Cougars right back into the game, capping a 60-yard drive with a 38-yard TD run. Webb took the toss off left tackle, broke a couple of tackles and raced to the end zone for the score. Webb rushed for 59 yards on 11 carries in the game while Lane Thomas led the Cougars on the ground with 93 yards on 19 carries.

Davis Long’s extra point made it 14-7 with 7:05 to play in the second quarter.

OCS caught a break on its ensuing drive as a defensive pass interference penalty on a third down and 25 play gave them another opportunity. The Eagles then converted on third and 10 following the PI and finally scored on a 5-yard quarterback run with 1:34 to play before the half.

Thomas gave the Cougars a chance to put some more points on the board right before the half as his 49-yard kick return set Creek up around midfield. After picking up two first downs, Creek lined up for a 35-yard field goal attempt and Long split the uprights with only four seconds remaining before the half.

Creek trailed 21-10 at the break.

“Bottom line is I did find out a little bit about (us), but I also know we have to learn how to win the big ones,” said Middleton. “That’s kind of the deal around here. We have to learn to be able to do that. We have some maturing to do really quick.

“The point is this. We we face a little adversity, we have to be able to make ourselves climb out of it. We are going to learn to do that. I am going to hold a standard and an expectation to do that. We did come back and we competed.”

The Cougars defense stood tall in the first 18 minutes of action following halftime, holding the Eagles high-powered offense without a point. Quincy Lewis, already Cedar Creek’s all-time tackles leader, led the Cougars defense with 19 tackles despite suffering with cramps in the second half. Lane Thomas and Ladd Thompson each recorded seven tackles.

However, the Cougars offense wasn’t able to generate any more points as Long’s 36-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter missed wide right.

The Eagles added a 1-yard TD run with 6:30 to play and then a 15-yard TD run with 3:25 remaining (after Creek was unable to convert on fourth down inside its own 30-yard line).

Middleton said he hopes the Cougars program can get to the same point as OCS in the future.

“You have to win (a big one) to be honest with you,” said Middleton. “That’s the thing. OCS knows how to do it. (West Monroe) knows how. They have been doing it for 25 years. We just have to find a way to get there and be able to do it.

“But also understand this isn’t the end of the season either.”

Creek hosts Lincoln Prep next Friday night at Cougar Stadium.

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