By Chuck Reherman
MOORE – A tale of two halves.
In the end it was the first half that cost the Millers.
After giving up 41 first half points, Yukon put together a furious comeback attempt in the second half only to fall short to Moore, 49-35 Thursday night at Moore Schools Stadium.
The Millers did rally to within 41-35, after trailing 41-21 at halftime, with 7:15 remaining in the game. Moore, who had been held in check until that time, put together an 80-yard drive in just under three minutes to take a two touchdown lead.
“I told the players I real proud of the fight in the second half,” Miller head coach Jeremy Reed said. “We didn’t do very many good things in the first half and so it was encouraging to see us come back in the second half and play much better. It was just a frustrating night.
“I thought we fought hard, but we have to play with that type of heart and passion we did in the fourth quarter for four quarters,” he said. “The game might have looked a little different.
“I real proud of certain positions. Our offensive line, we had a kid get hurt in practice this week and have a sophomore step up. We had another one of our linemen go down early today in the game and had another one step up. I am real proud of that group. That is not an easy place to step up and they did really well.”
The Millers gave up 41 first half points, started the second half with a 16-play 80-yard scoring drive with Makari Slaughter scoring on a six-yard run to cut the margin to 41-28 with 4:21 remaining in the quarter.
Slaughter also had runs of 10, six, nine and five in the drive.
Yukon’s defense stopped Moore on its first possession of the second half and went on a 12-play, 74-yard drive to cut the lead to six points. Landon Donoho scored on a seven-yard run that made it 41-35 with 7:15 left in the game.
The drive though, was marred when Slaughter was tackled awkwardly and went down. The game was delayed more than 20 minutes as he was treated on the field and taken off on a cart to an awaiting ambulance.
As he left the field, the Moore student section applauded then chanted “we love Yukon as he was taken off the field.
The Millers didn’t let the injury cause them to lose momentum. Levi Davis completed a 20-yard pass to Isaiah Butler to the Moore 43 and runs of 14 from Camron Farmer and 11 from Caden Hernandez moved the ball to the Moore 10. Donoho scored two plays later.
Moore, though, came right back and quarterback Daniel Hishaw scored on a two-yard run that put the game out of reach, 49-35, with 4:07 left in the game. Hishaw set up the score with a 61-yard pass to Brandon Girard.
The Miller defense had trouble stopping the big play in the first half. Moore scored on the first play of the game on an 80-yard Hishaw pass to Girard just 16 seconds into the game.
Yukon did tie the game on a one-yard run by Davis that capped an eight-play, 70-yard scoring drive. YHS went for the two-point conversion, missed and the game was left tied 6-6 with 4:28 left in the first.
After Moore hit the Millers for a second big play (a 68-yard Hishaw to Girard touchdown pass), the Millers took their only lead of the game when Slaughter scored on a four-yard run with 10:51 left in the first half. Davis ran in the conversion to give the Millers a 14-12 lead.
But, the Lions used a 39-yard kickoff return by Jaiden West, a 30-yard run by Jayce Gardner and a 20-yard Hishaw touchdown run to regain the lead 18-14. Gardner scored on an 11-yard run to open a 26-14 lead.
The Millers did cut the lead to 26-21 on a 32-yard touchdown run by Farmer. But, Moore scored on a 33-yard Gardner touchdown run and Moore’s Nate Rutter picked up a Miller fumble and returned it 23-yards for a touchdown to open the 41-21 halftime lead.
The Millers did finish the night with 459 yards rushing on 66 carries, an average if seven yards a carry. Moore finished with 574 yards of offense a total of 1,033 by both teams.
“We couldn’t tackle in that first half,” Reed said. “Our eye discipline was very poor defensively. It was one of those deals was what we were watching on the game field is not what we had been seeing in practice.
“We think we got some of that corrected in the second half and hopefully learned a few things about what could happen when you do those things well,” he said. “We have two weeks to get other things corrected, but my main concern going into the bye week is our health and status of a group of players. The bye week is very welcomed right now.
“This was a very long, physical football game. It was a war and we need the healing time for sure.”
By Chuck Reherman