By Chuck Reherman
After two weeks on the road and struggling to win games, Yukon found an old adage to ring true.
There is no place like home.
Yukon rolled to a 21-10 first half lead and held off a late comeback bid to upend Norman North 28-23 in the home opener for the Millers Friday night at Miller Stadium.
The Millers used a bruising ground game to take the 21-10 lead in the first half, scored again late in the third and had a chance to put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a field try leading 28-17. The field goal try was blocked and Norman North’s Mason Pace ran over, scooped up the ball and returned it 97-yards for a touchdown to close the lead to five.
The Miller defense clamped down on North on their next possession and the Millers ran the final four minutes off the clock.
“The kids played hard tonight, winning is hard,” Miller head coach Marshall Hahn said. “We gave up a scoop and score on a blocked field goal that was a big points swing, but the defense came up huge stopping the two-point conversion and the offensive line all night found ways and you can’t say enough about the runningbacks, they ran hard all night long.
“We overcame an unfortunate injury early, the kids were able to work through that,” he said. “We had a lot of adversity and we were looking for a way to fight through it and that is what we have been looking for. We will be able to enjoy it a little while and then back to work.
“Our offensive line really came through for us and grew up a little bit tonight. It just takes time, you depend on the guy to the right and left of you in that position and it takes some time to figure out how each other works and you play off that. They did a really good job with that tonight.”
Norman North did cut the lead to 21-17 late in the third quarter on a six-yard touchdown pass from Kamden Sixkiller Brayden Dorney.
But, the Millers answered in five plays with Jesse Eakers scoring on a seven-yard run to put the lead to 28-17 with 2:28 left in the third. The score was set up on a 35-yard run by Heath Sperry and a 12-yard run from Eakers.
The Miller defense turned away Norman North on their next possession and had the chance to put the game away, driving to the North nine-yard line. On a fourth and five, Yukon went for the field goal, but the kick was blocked and Pace scooped it up and returned it 97 yards for the score.
Yukon’s defense stopped North on the two-point conversion that made it 28-23 with 10:15 left.
Another key defensive stop gave the ball back to Yukon with 3:52 remaining and a 30-yard run by Eakers on third and six and a 15-yard run by Logan Troxell on a third and 15 sealed the win.
The Millers had taken the initial lead on a two-yard Kennison Rogers touchdown run. North tied the game on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Sixkller and took a 10-7 lead on a 33-yard field goal from Will Sutherland.
Yukon regained the lead on a 10-yard Troxell touchdown pass to Logan Day and opened a 21-10 lead on a one-yard run by Troxell.
“Logan (Day) came up with some big runs for us and so did Jesse and Logan (Troxell),” Hahn said. “Logan (Day) is a dude, he has a heart that is big and I love that kid. Jesse is rounding back into form after taking a year off from football. He always has a big grin on his face and it was bigger tonight.
“After that blocked field goal return for a touchdown, we told the players that nothing has changed, we are still in the lead,” he said. “We just need to continue to go out and get first downs. They hit a punt and downed it on the two yard line and there were a lot of situations that made it a little tough there. Before the game I was talking to someone and I said points are important, but before that you have to get first downs and we were able to get first downs in critical conditions and that led to the win.”