In MacArthur we trust
CHOCTAW - Gashed time after time by one of the most powerful players to play prep football in Oklahoma might have had players fighting amongst themselves, but even when things looked the bleakest, MacArthur's players kept reminding each other of the most important thing; their love for each other.
In the end that love, that raw emotion came out in full force when Jimmi Denning, the kicker who wasn't good enough to handle the kickoffs, booted a perfect conversion PAT to give the Highlanders an amazing 50-49 overtime victory over McAlester and send Mac into its first championship game since 2011. The foe will be Skiatook, which beat Ardmore last night in the other semifinal. Site and time will be announced today by the OSSAA.
Down by two touchdowns most of the game, Mac never wavered and when it started to get some control of the amazing Buffs' quarterback Dalton Wood, they made their move and most often it was the passing game that led the way.
"These guys just never quit loving each other and pumping each other up," Mac head coach Brett Manning said after the game. "That love for each other allowed them to rally together even when things were bleak and find a way to make a few plays. We might have given up a lot of yardage but that kid's done that to everyone.
"That's why Oklahoma has him as one of the top picks in that recruiting class. But somehow we never gave up. Each time we needed a score we found a way to get it into the end zone. And the defense made some big stops at key times."
All total Wood, who is being recruited as a tight end, carried the ball 29 time for 395 yards and five rushing touchdowns, one a 99-yard scamper that seemed to take a lot of fight out of the Highlanders late in the second quarter.
But there were times when he didn't have any room, like in the final two minutes of the game when the Buffaloes were nursing a 40-35 lead . The 6-4, 250-pounder was stopped three times on short runs up the middle from the Mac 3-yard-line.
It appeared McAlester might try to go for the TD on fourth down but after a timeout the Buffs went for the field goal and Taeam Kang drilled a 20-yard field goal to run the lead to eight, 43-35.
Then the Highlanders got a break, the Buffs tried an onside kick but Mac recovered at its own 48 with 1:06 to cover that distance.
The first play didn't help with a short loss on a pass play. And when the second fell incomplete Mac was down to a key third-and-15 at its own 45.