By Chuck Reherman
BROKEN ARROW – Two plays….That’s what is standing in the way of Yukon making the playoffs.
The second of those two plays came with 52 seconds remaining as Broken Arrow’s Isaiah Keller ran in a two-point conversion that gave No. 2 ranked Broken Arrow a 43-42 District 6AI-1 win over the Millers on a cold, rain-soaked Memorial Stadium Field Friday night in Broken Arrow.
It was the second week in a row that the Millers had see a team come from behind in the final minute to score and then run in the conversion to earn a one-point win over the Millers. In that two game span, the Millers have led 94 of the 96 minutes played.
Those two plays will keep YHS from making the playoffs after falling to 1-4 overall in the district (2-6 overall).
Had those two plays gone Yukon’s way and one-point wins for the Millers, YHS would actually have been setting in second place in the district with two games remaining and against winless teams.
Much like the week before in a 50-49 loss to Westmoore, Broken Arrow put together a drive after the Millers had scored to break a 35-35 tie and taken a 42-35 lead. The Tigers drove 65 yards in seven plays to bring BAHS within one point.
Keller scored on a 10-yard run with 52 seconds remaining to make it a 42-41 game. Keller, out of the wildcat offense, then ran in the conversion (his second of the night) to give BAHS a 43-42 lead.
The Millers did have one chance remaining and starting at their own 25, moved to the 39 in two plays. On a first down play, Brayden Dutton’s pass was intercepted by Broken Arrow’s Bryce Mattioda at the BAHS 31-yard line to seal the win.
“It’s not fair, it’s really not,” Miller head coach Jeremy Reed said. “Yukon has never beat that team in history of playing football and we led for 46 or 47 minutes of the game and that was the best chance this program has had to beat Broken Arrow.
“We knew it was going to be tough to get a stop after we scored,” he said. “We were missing four defensive starters tonight, but we still have a lot of faith on our defense to get one. It was not from a lack of effort out there. I would challenge the people of Yukon to find a team that has played harder the last two weeks than the Yukon Millers. If you were not at these games, then you were missing out on a display of heart and fight.
“I wasn’t surprised again when they went for two after scoring that touchdown, because for the second week in a row, I believe our opponent knew they could not stop us. We scored every time in the first half, punted only once in the second half and that last drive. That was the only two times we didn’t score and they knew it.”
All the Millers needed was to get into field goal position around the 30-yard line for kicker Cody Watson. And, YHS would have been at that mark with 33 seconds left had Mattioda not stepped in front of the receiver and picked off the pass.
“We were just trying to get into field goal range and had to throw the football,” Reed said. “We had a shot at it.
“It is just heartbreaking to look at these kids again,” he said. “We had four defensive starters out tonight. Obviously we have struggled on defense and when you compound that with four starters out, it just makes it special to watch those kids.”
The Millers were missing two key linebackers and two members of the secondary. “We had to plug and play, that has been the motto of the Millers since 2019. Since the Mustang game, we have not had our starting 22 out there and that makes it more impressive to me what these kids are doing. That is two good football teams in a row that we get beat on a two-point conversion.”
The YHS offense did keep the Millers in the game. Yukon finished with 448 yards of offense, 413 yards on the ground and a good BAHS defense. Broken Arrow finished the night with 455 yards of offense.
Broken Arrow had rallied to tie the game 35-35 with 10:49 remaining in the contest when Jake Raines connected with Keller on a 50-yard touchdown pass. YHS had stopped the two-point conversion, but a flag for pass interference have the Tigers another chance and Keller scored to make it 35-35.
The Millers, though, put together a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took over six minutes off the clock and regained the lead when Camron Farmer broke through the line and scored on a 20-yard run. Watson’s extra point expanded the lead to 42-35 with 3:43 remaining.
But, 3:43 left on the clock gave Broken Arrow time of their own to drive for that turned out to be the game winning score.
“For two weeks in a row, the offense has played solid,” Reed said. “I don’t know how many yards we ran for, but maybe it will calm the echos of we should be in a different offense. These kids deserve better than those talks, because this offense fits the town of Yukon and I couldn’t be more proud of bunch of guys that have not listened to that talk and bought in to it and are playing at a high level.
“It is almost one of those deals that you almost don’t believe it,” he said. “For two weeks in a row I have walked away thinking that was not real, we didn’t just lose on a two-point conversion.
For the second week in a row, the Millers got off to a fast start and turned the game into a shoot-out early.
The Millers took the opening drive and marched 80-yards in eight plays with Makari Slaughter scoring on a 10-yard run to give the Millers a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. The score was set-up on a 49-yard Caden Hernandez run to the BAHS 21-yard line.
Broken Arrow did answer as Keller scored on a 66-yard run on the Tigers first play from scrimmage to knot the game 7-7 with 7:51 remaining.
Hernandez, for the third week in a row, broke the big play. Hernandez scored on a 70-yard touchdown run just over a minute later to put the Millers in front 14-7.
Broken Arrow came back with their own big play as Raines connected with Keller on a 32-yard touchdown pass. But, Nate Hahn blocked his fourth extra point of the season (a YHS record) to keep the Millers in front 14-13 with 3:41 remaining.
The Millers took their biggest lead of the game on their next possession, driving 80-yards in 14 plays with Hernandez scoring his second touchdown, from eight-yards out, to lead 21-13 with 7:32 left in the half.
Raines brought the Tigers back within one when he tossed a 17-yard score to Tory Dillard to make it 21-20 with 4:48 remaining.
The Millers scored on their fourth straight possession as Slaughter scored on a 13-uard run with 34 seconds left in the half to open a 28-20 lead. The play was set up on Landon Donoho’s 44-yard run on the first play of the drive.
After Broken Arrow did cut the lead to 28-27 on a 27-yard touchdown run by Sanchez Banks 1:01 into the second half, Farmer scored on a 10-yard run to cap a 12-play, 62-yard drive and make it a 35-27 lead.
Hernandez led the Miller rushing attack with 146 yards on only six carries. Donoho had 90 yards on 13 carries, farmer 87 on 14 and Slaughter 60 on 12.
“I am super proud of our kids, I can’t say it enough,” Reed said. “As a coach you hurt tremendously for the because of the heart they have shown. It is just really unfair, it really is. We are two plays away from not having just a playoff game, but potentially a home playoff game. Two plays, the last two weeks are between us and potentially a home playoff game. That is just crazy.”