By Chuck Reherman
A season of firsts continues for Southwest Covenant’s Patriot football team.
To go with a first ever district title, the Patriots now have their first ever quarterfinal playoff win and a first trip to the Class C state semifinals.
Southwest Covenant broke away from their toughest challenge of the season in rolling to a 56-16 win over Tyrone in the quarterfinals at Patriot Field.
SWCS led only 28-16 at halftime, but scored four more times in the second half and the defense forced four Bobcat turnovers in turning a tight ball game into a runaway,
SWCS, 11-0, will face No. 1 ranked Buffalo, 12-0, in the semifinals Friday night at Northwestern State University in Alva in a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Patriots and Bison are the only two unbeaten teams in class C.
The Patriots ran out to a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the game, saw Tyrone cut the lead to five in the second quarter, but then pulled away in the second half. The defense forced Tyrone into nine fumbles, losing four and took control of the game.
“The players handled the adversity of the first half really well,” SWCS head coach Trey Cloud said. “I told them at halftime I wanted us to win the second half, just win the second half. They came back and grounded and pounded in the second half. The defense stepped up and didn’t let Tyrone score in the second half and we worked some things out on offense.
“It was a huge win,” he said. “We started out quick in the game which I love doing, but we have to keep it up in the second quarter. They came back in the second half and just grounded things and that was the difference. The players stepped up in a huge game. We haven’t had a close game and this was close in the first half and we did a great job of taking control in the second half.”
The Patriots control of the game actually came late in the first half after Jesse Deason recovered an Alex Landaverde fumble that stopped a Tyrone drive and led to a quick SWCS touchdown.
Ben Webb connected with Cole Shaw on a 44-yard touchdown pass that opened a 28-16 lead with 51 seconds left in the half.
The Patriot defense forced another fumble early in the third quarter that was recovered by Blake Riddell that led to another SWCS touchdown.
Southwest Covenant went to their back on tricks on the score, as Webb passed to Shawn, who then lateraled the ball to Trevor Kelly that turned into a 46-yard touchdown and a 35-16 lead with 7:39 left in the third quarter.
The defense forced another fumble two plays later (Tyler Kelly made the recovery) and Webb passed nine-yards to Will Haas for the touchdown and a 42-16 with 6:43 left in the quarter. That score virtually put the game away for the Patriots.
“We did a great job of putting our hat on the ball and causing fumbles,” Cloud said. “We needed to wrap up a little better but putting our hat on the football and getting the fumbles we big. We did our job on defense, we have keys and the players were using those keys and that was huge.
“We were flying around to the ball and at the same time you take what you can get,” he added. “We didn’t make a lot of adjustments at halftime, we knew what we wanted to do on offense, and defensively, we knew they were getting tired and we knew we had to grind it out. We knew they could come back on teams, they did on Pond Creek and made it a 10-point game and we didn’t want to give them the opportunity.”
The Patriot defense continued to clamp down on Tyrone and a quick three and out led to the seventh score of the game. Webb connected with Haas, who had a break-out night with five touchdowns, on a 32-yard touchdown pass that opened a 49-16 lead with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
Haas scored his fifth touchdown midway in the fourth quarter on a six-yard shuttle pass from Webb.
“Will is really fast and Ben put some perfect passes into his hands,” Cloud said. “There were a few times I wasn’t happy with Ben’s decision making on where to throw the ball, but I did give him that option and he delivered some perfect passes.”
Haas did score the first two touchdowns of the game. He caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Webb in the opening minute of the game, then turned a short pass and run into a 63-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead just three minutes into the game.
Haas finished the night catching eight passes for 134 yards. Webb completed 10 of 16 passes for 235 yards and six touchdowns.
Tyrone did cut the lead to 14-8 on an Antonio Pacheco touchdown run and made it 21-16 on a three-yard run by Chance Duty with 7:50 left in the half. That came after Trevor Kelly had scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to open a 21-8 lead.
Tyrone had a chance to cut into that lead at the end of the first quarter (and Duty’s touchdown would have given Tyrone a lead) as Landaverde tried to score from the one-yard line. But, as he made a second effort to the end zone, he fumbled the ball and Shaw recovered in the end zone.