By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – EDMOND – Taking it step by step.
And, Yukon is now one step closer.
The Millers won their second district game of the season Friday night, using a bruising running game to post a 42-15 win over Edmond Memorial in a 6AI-1 contest at Santa Fe Stadium.
The Millers, 4-3 overall and 2-1 in district play, effectively ended Memorial’s chance at a playoff berth. The loss dropped Memorial to 0-4 in district play and 1-7 overall. YHS is tied for third in the district race with Santa Fe and Westmoore, both who remain on the schedule along with Jenks. The Millers play at Jenks Thursday, then host Santa Fe and Westmoore in the final two weeks of the season.
The Millers did get off to a little bit of a ragged start, fumbling the ball away on their opening possession, then giving up the lead, 8-7 late in the first quarter.
But, YHS took control with a drive that started late in the first quarter and was capped off in the second, opened a 22-8 lead at halftime, then scored twice in the third quarter to put the game out of reach, 36-8.
“I didn’t expect a 42-15 game, you can never expect that with our schedule,” Miller head coach Jeremy Reed said. “I wasn’t really worried early after the mistakes and giving up the lead, I sensed that we were going to win the physical battle and I think we did.
“Big hats off to our defense,” he added. “They played very, very physical, played very fast and limited the best receiver that we have seen to one catch. That was a group effort and not one kid. I was really proud of how our defense played tonight, because they had some explosiveness on the outside.”
The Millers had their biggest offensive night of the season, rolling up 550 yards, including a season high 473 on the ground. In the last two weeks, the Millers have amassed 1,087 yards of total offense.
The YHS defense held Edmond Memorial to only 218 yards of offense and recorded eight plays for negative yards, while forcing a pair of turnovers. Elijah Wallace had a pair of interceptions on the night.
“We were very good in running the ball tonight,” Reed said. “We kind of pulled the chains back a little bit to bleed the clock in the second half, we felt like we had a lead that we could sustain and wanted to milk it a little bit.
“We talked about losing our 15 district points and we didn’t want to do that,” he said. “But, we wanted to get Perry (Olsen) out and get Jackson (Young) in and he did good things when he got in there.”
The Millers gained 30-yards on their first two plays of the game, but fumbled the ball away on that second play. The defense, though, stopped Memorial and forced a punt.
Yukon put together a 98-yard drive on their second possession as Olsen scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 35-yard run. Antonio Washington had a 27-yard run in the six-play drive and a 15-yard facemask penalty moved the ball to the Memorial 35.
Olsen finished the night rushing for 160-yards on 18 carries.
Memorial did take the lead 8-7 with 2:35 left in the first quarter when Blake Burgess passed to Brandon Gaffney on a 16-yard score. Bunter Fountain’s pass to Ford Burgess gave Mermorial an 8-7 lead.
The Millers came right back and scored in seven plays on a 48-yard Olsen to Carvelle McKinley touchdown pass. Olsen passed to Parker Kenley for the conversion and a 15-8 lead.
“We knew we would respond and bounce back,” Reed said. “I didn’t sense any worry, I think our offense knew they were in control on that side of the ball. They were extremely confident and wanted the ball back.”
The Millers opened a two touchdown lead five minutes later as Kenley scored on a 56-yard run, 22-8. Kenley finished the night with 77 yards on only three carries.
Yukon broke the game open in the third quarter. Olsen scored on runs a 12 and six yards to make it a 36-8 game. The first came after the Miller defense had two sacks and pushed Memorial back to their one-yard line and had only a 31-yard punt. The second came after Wallace’s first interception.
Yukon’s final score came late in the game on a five-yard run by Young.
The Millers play their final road game Thursday at Jenks. The game will be a rematch of the team’s first ever meeting, that coming in 1997 in the class 6A state championship game.
“We are playing good football, our kids have experienced victory. When you go through a 14-game skid and we have had a little up and down, but know we are at 4-3 and playing pretty well. Obviously we respect jenks a whole lot, but I am just proud of our kids for what they have done.
“We knew from the beginning that we had a chance to be competitive. But in class 6A, everyone can play, there are no bad teams. We just knew we would have to hone in on how we played football and if we caught up to that speed we would have a chance and if not, we would struggle. I think our kids have done a phenomenal job of getting caught up to how we play football.”