By Chuck Reherman
The game had all the markings of what would be called a “trap game.”
Yukon coming in off a win over the rival and Moore looking to get that first win of the season.
And for 24 minutes, it looked like that trap was in place.
Yukon found away out of the trap in the second half as the Miller defense stepped up their game, the offense came to life and YHS ran away to a 49-27 win over the Lions Friday night at Miller Stadium.
The Millers finished their non-district slate unbeaten and are 3-0 for the first time since the 2010 season. YHS has a bye week ahead of them and starts the district 6A-2 season on Sept. 21 hosting Norman.
Yukon led four different times in the first half (YHS scored 12 seconds into the game), but it was the second half that made the difference. After allowing nearly 300 yards of offense to Moore in the first half, the Miller defense put the breaks on Moore in the second half.
And, it turned out to be the difference in the game.
“It is kind of a tale of two halves,” YHS head coach Jeremy Reed said. “The first half, obviously special teams played a huge part with the two kickoff returns. I thought our offense played very, very solid, not turning the ball over was a ginormous goal for us all night. We really executed well all night. The first half we only had 15 offensive plays. We felt good about it, we just didn’t have enough plays.
“Defense came out and we weren’t quite ourselves,” he said. “We kind of saw that coming. A little bit of hangover or whatever you want to call it. We kind of felt there was going to be some of that and we tried to guard against it. But, these are 14 to 18 year old kids.
“The second half was a much different ball game. Our defense came out much, much better as far as intensity and flying around. We had better tackling, we just didn’t tackle well in the first half. Our offense continued to capitalize when given the opportunity. There were a lot of different things that went on in this football game.”
The second half did turn the game in the Millers’ favor with the Millers leading 27-21. The defense shut down Moore in its opening possession, forcing a fumble on the second play with YHS recovering at the Lion 24-yard line.
It took the Millers five plays to stretch their lead to two touchdowns on a one-yard scoring run by Noah Davis. Antonio Washington set up the score with runs of 17 and seven yards in the drive.
The defense forced a Moore punt on their second possession and it took the Millers eight plays to cap a 50-yard drive with an Isaiah Butler 13-yard touchdown run that basically put the game out of reach. Washington had a 19-yard run in the drive to set up the score.
It was Butler’s fourth touchdown on the night as the junior runningback had a career night. The score sent the Millers to a 42-21 lead.
The defense forced Moore into a second fumble, recovered by Cade Peters at the Lion 35-yard line.
On a first and 15 play (YHS had a penalty on the first play) Owen Olsen took the ball on an end around and scored from 40 yards out with 1:54 left in the third quarter.
“We told the players at halftime that they better wake up or they would walk out of here 2-1,” Reed said. “Told them we have talked about it all week and you have seen how the first half has gone so you better come out and do some things differently.
“We had some great adustments at halftime I felt like that really put some points on the board for us,” he added. “The defense wasn’t making a lot of changes, they were just getting the kids to play.”
Butler gave the Millers a spark on the opening play of the game as the junior returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. YHS led 7-0 12 seconds into the game.
But, Moore was looking to make a statement and put together a drive on the second possession. The Lions moved the ball 73 yards in 12 plays with quarterback Daniel Hishaw scoring on a two-yard run to tie the contest with 2:46 left in the first quarter.
YHS regained the lead on their next possession as Butler scored on a 38-yard run on the fourth play of their second drive, giving the Millers a 14-7 lead with 54 seconds left in the opening quarter.
But, the first quarter fireworks weren’t quite over.
Hishaw connected with Dylan Buchhelt on a 67-yard scoring pass to tie the game with five seconds remaining to tie the game at 14.
But, that wasn’t how the quarter ended.
Butler took the kickoff at his two-yard line and after nearly seeing it carrying him out of bounds, cut back, found a seam and raced 98-yards with his second kickoff return for a touchdown and put the Millers back in the lead.
“It was a great feeling to return those kickoffs,” Butler said. “We take special teams really serious, against Edmond North we got two blocked punts, so we don’t take lightly. It is something we need in our team.
“We have worked on kickoffs a lot and I had a lot of confidence,” he said. “I trusted my teammates and we executed well. We feel we can go as far as we can. We trust in our brotherhood.”
Moore did come back and tied the game 21-21 in the second quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run by Hishaw, who made a dove over two defenders into the end zone.
But, the Millers just kept rolling along with their offense. Two plays after Moore tied the game, Jackson Young connected with Payton Hofer on a 50-yard touchdown pass and a 28-21 lead with 2:05 left in the half.
“Their quarterback was the best offensive player we have seen,” Reed said. “He is a big kid and was hard to bring down.
“It was fun to see those kickoff returns for touchdowns,” he said. “We practice special teams a whole bunch and put a lot of emphasis on it. And, to have four touchdowns off special teams in the first three games is pretty neat for us. And, it re-emphasizes what we are doing.”
The Millers held Moore to under 150 yards in the second half, but most of that came on the Lions’ last two possessions after the Millers had built a 49-21 lead.
“The main thing we did was we got a couple better match-ups on the perimeter to bring another guy into the box to keep the quarterback from running all over the place,” defensive coordinator Craig Hubbard said. “It was a schematic adjustment, but the main thing we did is mentally we got them to tackle better and got them to use the technique we taught them in practice.
“Unfortunately we could kind of see it coming after that win over Mustang,” he said. “Coming down off that high of beating Mustang and it is hard to respond after you beat a big-time rival, especially after you haven’t beaten them in a few years. It showed the first half, but after we woke up in the second half, we showed how we have played the last two games. It was a very good learning experience for our kids to not take anyone lightly and that they will play how the practiced that week.”
By Chuck Reherman