Getting that “signature” win.
Yukon did it in comeback fashion Friday night as the Millers rallied from a 14-point first half deficit and used a Caden Allen field goal with 2:15 remaining in the game to upend Westmoore 31-21 in a key district 6AI-1 contest at Miller Stadium.
The win was more than just a signature win for the Millers, who earned their first berth into the 6AI playoffs since the division was formed. It was also the first time the Millers had beaten the Jaguars since 2004.
The Millers scored 28 unanswered points on their way from climbing out of a 14-0 deficit to a 28-14 lead late in the third quarter. Allen’s field goal capped a 70-yard drive in the fourth quarter that took nine minutes and 57 seconds off the clock and opened a 10-point lead.
Westmoore did try to pull out another last second win (the Jaguars had beaten the Millers 50-49 last year on a last minute touchdown) scoring with 1:33 remaining. But the Millers recovered the onside kick and ran the clock out to seal their fifth win of the season and guarantee a winning year.
YHS improved to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the district. Westmoore 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the district with district co-leader Jenks their final game of the regular season. The Millers have 0-9 Edmond Memorial remaining on the slate at home.
“It was a very complete win,” YHS head coach Jeremy Reed said. “We got down 14-0 and could have had a lot of panic when we got down by 14. It wasn’t very pretty getting down 14-0, it was pretty ugly.
“Westmoore went down the field pretty easily both times, but then saw the foundation of our program shine through the toughness, the grit and resiliency of our kids. Big play on special teams with the recovery of the muffed punt, huge interception for a pick six and our offense had to be very patient and gritty tonight. Just a complete team win and how we came about finishing the game.
“No matter how you look at in a non Covid-19 year or not, we are going to finish no worse than fourth. In my eyes we finally hit that hump of earning a playoff berth. This is monumental for our program, we have been so close now for the last three years that it has been agonizing and to finally get over that is very rewarding for those kids.”
The Millers, trailing 14-7 starting the second half, put everything together in the second half in all phases of the game. YHS’ first drive was stalled out, but a muffed Westmoore punt was recovered by Keaton Hahn at the Westmoore 26-yard line.
It took the Millers only three plays to tie the game with Travon Ware barreling in over two Westmoore defenders for the score with 8:38 left in the third quarter.
Two plays later, it was the defense that came up with the big play, as Hahn stepped in front of a Dayton Wolfe pass for an interception and returned it 42 yards for the touchdown to give the Millers their first lead of the game, 21-14 26 seconds later.
The interception was one of four turnovers the Millers forced in the game.
“We really didn’t say anything that was earth shattering at halftime,” Reed said. “We told here is where we are at what we have to do, here is what Westmoore is doing. We made a couple of minor adjustments, nothing that would make anybody open their eyes wide or anything.
“When we made a switch of defenses in the off season, we had this game circled and one that this defensive scheme would help us in our play,” he said. “We were happy to see our defense get those turnovers. They have played well the last few games, but haven’t gotten the turnovers and this defense is predicated on getting turnovers. I was just happy to see our defense get those and the capitalization on those was monumental in us getting the victory.
“Getting pressure on their quarterback was key, he is a good quarterback. We expected to get pressure it was a matter of what they were going to do to counter that pressure.”
The defense continued making big plays as Wolfe was sacked five plays later, fumbled the ball and the Millers recovered at the Jaguar 33-yard line.
YHS pushed their lead to 14 six plays later as Jesse Eakers scored on an eight-yard, diving over Westmoore’s Ja’quan Richardson from the three-yard line to the end zone to give the Millers a 28-14 lead with 3:18 left in the game.
Westmoore made it 28-21 when Wolfe connected with Zane Chavez on an eight-yard touchdown pass 48 seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Yukon offense, after hearing Reed say one thing, “make the drive”, put together their most important drive of the season. The Millers drove the ball 70-yards in 17 plays taking up over nine minutes before Allen nailed his 25-yard game winning field goal to open a 10-point lead with 2:15 remaining.
“This is monumental for our program,” Reed said. “We have been so close now for the last three years, it has been agonizing. To finally get over that is very rewards for these kids.
“We have been on the wrong end of losing heartbreakers and thankfully we came out on the right end tonight,” he said. “Last year Westmoore beat us 50-49 on a two-point, BA beat us 43-42 on a two-point and beat us by two points with seven seconds to go this year. So finally, we were able to get that last second victory be on the winning end.”
In the last three meetings between the teams, the one that has taken the early lead has come out on top. The Millers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in 2018 only to lose and led 35-14 at one-point last year before the Jaguars rallied to the win.
“It’s been crazy, this is always a great game. The coaches over there have some great schemes and great players and it has been a great game.”
It looked at the start that it weas going to be Westmoore’s night. The Jags scored four plays into the game and after recovering a Miller fumble, WHS scored seven plays later to open the 14-0 lead.
The Miller defense did settle down after that and did not allow Westmoore offense to get going, forcing a fumble and a punt.
“I told the players before halftime that we have to weather the storm and we made it halfway through the storm and would have to fight our way out of it,” defensive coordinator Craig Hubbard said. “I told them that at the end of the first quarter and then again at halftime. When we left the locker room at halftime I told them we had weathered the storm and now we have to make our own storm. There is not a lot of magic potions, we just started playing faster and making tackles. We were doing what we were coached to do.
“We did start the game out slow and once we woke up and started playing fast, that is what we are predicated on because we are not a huge, huge defense and once we started utilizing our speed, read our keys and running to our targets, we turned it around,” he said. “We made some adjustments at the start of the second quarter, we didn’t run it correctly until the second half and it was a big, big difference. Once we got them out of what they wanted to do on offense, we played well.”