Landon Graves threw a 97-yard TD pass to Tristan Wiley with less than two minutes to play and No. 2 ranked Ouachita Christian School rallied for a 33-22 win over Cedar Creek before a pack house Friday night at Cougar Stadium.
With the Creek (1-2) leading 22-21 in the final minutes, the Cougars were forced to punt around midfield. The punt pinned OCS at its three-yard line.
With no timeouts remaining, OCS (4-0) needed a score. The Eagles got it in one play.
“We had a bust in coverage,” said Cedar Creek head coach Matt Middleton. “Wiley made a break on a ball. We had underneath coverage. We had a defender go for an interception and miss. Wiley made a heck of a catch and ran down the sideline.”
OCS entered the game 3-0, including wins over Southwood (40-0) and Oak Grove (35-21). The game had a David vs. Goliath feel to it leading up during the week. But Cedar Creek stood tall despite an early deficit and gave itself a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
Middleton said he was proud of the fight his team showed culminating a very emotional week at Cedar Creek.
“We knew that nobody believed we had a chance except us,” said Middleton. “That’s the way we fell. Even with a lot of outside noise and distractions this week, these kids rallied around each other as a family and a team and got after it. They played well. Make no mistake about it, they played for each other and they know they can play with anybody.”
Mid-way through the third quarter it appeared as if OCS may run away – or pass away – with the game. The Eagles scored on their opening possession of the third quarter to up the advantage to 21-6.
However, following a failed onside attempt by OCS, the Cougars waisted little time in getting back into the game. Jed Worthey, who rushed for 152 yards on 26 carries, took a handoff and galloped 50 yards to paydirt. After a successful two-point conversion on a pass from Caden Middleton to Bryce Rushing, the Creek only trailed 21-14.
“I think the biggest thing is we tried to establish the line of scrimmage,” said Middleton, who saw his team rush for over 200 yards in the loss. “We made a lot of corrections this week. We haven’t run the football effectively however last night during OCS we were able to run the football effectively. It was a good night from a rushing standpoint.
“We made some adjustments this week and some changes, and we made some correction. I think the kids were a lot looser and more confident in their assignments. And I think it definitely paid off last night.”
Following a forced punt by OCS, the Cougars put another scoring drive together. Lane Thomas capped it with a two-yard TD run and then another Middleton to Rushing connection on the two-point conversion gave Cedar Creek its first lead of the game.
The scored remained that way until late. Creek had an opportunity to run out the clock with one more first down, but on fourth-down and 10 to go, the Cougars punted to pin OCS deep, setting the stage for the Eagles heroics. OCS added a late pick-six to complete the scoring.
Despite the heart-breaking loss, Middleton said his team can take a lot away from the performance.
“I told them we can play with anybody,” said Middleton. “We’ve proven that. We have played against two of the top teams in our district and we are a couple of plays away from being 3-0. We only have three seniors so we are a young team. We have shown we can go toe-to-toe with anybody in our district and that has given us some confidence. Hopefully we can get on a run.”
Caden Middleton finished 5-of-10 for 91 yards.
Defensively, the Cougars were led by Quincy Lewis (14 tackles), Lawson Lillo (11 tackles), Carson Riley (10 tackles) and Jed Worthey (10 tackles).
“We played really well defensively,” said Middleton. “We have been really good against the run this year. We gave up some big plays in the passing game that hurt us. Their quarterback and two receivers are special. Their O-line is probably as good as I’ve seen at this level. They didn’t give up a sack all night.”
The Cougars will host River Oaks Friday night at Cougar Stadium.
Photo: Darrell James (dgjames.photoshelter.com)