By Chuck Reherman
Seconds after the final horn ran off, Yukon players raced across the field toward the student section carrying one thing that this group has not experienced in high school.
The Canadian County Bedlam trophy.
Yukon players, students as fans celebrated Friday night as the Millers ended a four-year drought with a 19-14 victory over rival Mustang at Miller Stadium.
It was another dominating performance by the Miller defense, who held the Bronco offense to 88 yards on the night and have not given up a point in its first two games.
The Miller offense also dominated the night, rolling up 461 yards of offense. But, the offense still had its struggles putting the ball on the ground and those mistakes gave MHS both its touchdowns.
“It obviously feels good for me, but I am just happy for this community and for this group of kids,” YHS head coach Jeremy Reed said. “What a challenge and monkey to get off their back. I am just overjoyed for town of Yukon and this group of kids.
“That was the most dominating game I have ever been in when I was losing,” he said. “It just felt like we were in complete control on both sides. Like I told them in the locker room it would have been great to have been 28-0, which I think it could have been pretty easily, but what a way to show the resilience and fight of this team, that has to make you even more proud.”
The Millers trailed 14-13 with 5:41 remaining in the game and put together a seven play, 74-yard drive that gave the Millers the lead and the eventual win on Antonio Washington’s seven-yard scoring run.
“We have a group of offensive staff guys that have been around this a long time and we knew going into that last drive that the only thing that had been stopping us all night was us,” Reed said. “It gets frustrating, but what great perseverance by our kids to keep fighting. I was so proud of those kids.”
YHS got some help on the opening play after a six-yard run by Washington. MHS was flagged for a late hit out of bounds that moved the ball to midfield.
The Millers ground it out from there, turning a 23-yard Lance Donoho run into a first down at the MHS 11. Washington scored two plays later to give the Millers a 19-14 lead with 1:51 remaining.
“I just told the guys that we have worked way too hard for this,” quarterback Jackson Young said about the last scoring drive. “All night we were driving the field and killing ourselves, and being the leader, I talked to them all, rallied them together and we got done what we needed to do.
“The way we practiced this week, it was all business,” Young said. “The win was just mental toughness, we felt we were the tougher team in the head, that along with our character as well. It is not just about the game, but our brotherhood, we are going to fight with who is next to us and to do what is right.”
On a fourth down play, Mustang tried to up a slip screen to George Lonzaga, but linebacker Jacob Pendergrass read the play, shot in and made a tackle that jarred the ball loose at the line of scrimmage.
“They were in quads on the left side and right before I went out, coach said watch the runningback, watch the runningback,” Pendergrass said. “I had my eyes on him, as soon as they snapped the ball I saw the runningback come up behind the line and catch the ball and knew I had to go make the play.
“I was not expecting them to run that and me make the play,” he said. “I expected them to throw the ball downfield, but they threw it in the middle and let me make the play. We have a lot of momentum coming off these two wins and I feel we are one of the best defenses in 6A.
“This is my first year at Yukon (he moved in from Spiro), but it feels great. I cried. These guys though, have told me what this game means and it feels great to play in it.”
The Millers did dominate the game but found themselves trailing 14-7 late in the third quarter as the Bronco defense returned a second fumble for a touchdown. MHS’ Dominik Venegas swatted a YHS pitch, the had the ball bounce back in his hands and returned it 87 yards for the touchdown with 4:41 left in the third quarter.
The offense shook off that mistake and put together a six-play 55-yard drive capped by a seven-yard touchdown run by Donoho to cut the lead to 14-13. On the conversion attempt to tie the game, the snap was low, and Cody Watson couldn’t get the kick away, leaving Mustang with the 14-13 lead.
From there, it was the Miller defense. Kale Fouts forced a Chaz Meadows fumble that Cade Peters jumped on at midfield and forced a punt with 5:14 remaining that led to the Miller go ahead touchdown.
“We all said from the beginning that we could be very good defensively,” Reed said. “In today’s football time, I would not have guessed that we would not have been scored on I the first two games. You can’t say enough about them, because they did catapult us to victory because of their great play and not allowing Mustang to get more momentum from the huge turnovers.
“That last possession, we told the defense one more stop,” he said. “We didn’t have to really tell them a lot of anything because of the heart of these kids. They have hearts of warriors. If you can fight in that environment against your rival with those bad things happening, that is not an average football team. That is the sign of a really good football team. These kids are very motivated.”
The Millers set the tone of the game on the first two possessions of the contest. The offense put together an eight-play 80-yard drive to take the lead and the defense held Mustang to one yard in its first three plays. Those two things were something that had not been done over the past four meetings.
Noah Davis scored the game’s opening touchdown on a play that was nearly disastrous. After driving to the two, the snap came out strange and Young had a hard time handling it. But, the ball went right to Davis, who found his way to the end zone.
Davis did have a 23-yard run in the drive and Young completed a 35-yard pass to Owen Olsen on a third and seven play that kept the drive alive.
The defense allowed Mustang only 38 yards in the first half and the Broncos ran only 13 plays. MHS did tie the game at the 5:44 mark of the second quarter when El Ricko Anderson scooped up a bad YHS pitch and returned it 30-yards for a touchdown.
“I have waited on this my whole career and never experienced anything better than this, I love, it,” defensive end Cody Burch said. “I honestly believe we are one of the best defenses in the state. We put the ball down, that is our motto and we play whistle to whistle.
“Our defense is playing on top, we have a great group of guys and I feel we can stop anyone,” he said. “We love this, it is our sport. We stopped their momentum and shut their good runningback down.”
Yukon’s running game finished the night with 385 yards led by Washington with 135 yards on 14 carries and Davis with 105 on 18. Donoho had 89 yards on 13 carries. Young finished the night completing three of five passes for 77 yards, three going to Olsen for 67 yards.
The Millers close out non district play hosting Moore this Friday. After a bye week, YHS opens district 6A-2 play hosting Norman Sept. 21.