GROVE — Closing out the season on a roll is the No. 1 priority for the Miami Wardogs.
The Dogs attempt to put together their first two-game winning streak since Weeks 2 and 3 of the 2015 season Friday, Oct. 3, when they face Grove in the fourth annual Rotary Bowl at Ridgerunner Stadium.
Grove holds a 2-1 edge since the Rotary clubs of Miami and Grove joined forces to promote the game and the civic organization.
Miami broke into the win column for the first time under head coach Andrew Rice Friday, Oct. 27, with an impressive 32-19 victory over Vinita at Red Robertson Field.
“Last week was big because it takes doing the right thing over and over before something like that happens,” Rice said. “Now its ‘OK, here’s the standard. This is how we have to practice. This is how we have to operate.’ It was big. It was good. It was good for the seniors. I know it was special for them. It was a fun night.”
This marked the first time that Miami scored first. It had been the other way in the previous eight games.
“I think the only thing that really changed for us was our level of execution,” Rice said. “Defensively we executed really well. Offensively we saw some things to improve on. That was the first time we were truly able to move the ball like we wanted to and dial some things up.”
Vinita pulled to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. However, the Wardogs countered with two huge scores in the span of just over four minutes.
Damion Burris reeled in a 14-yard pass from Gavin Payton at 8:10, then Burris scampered in from 2 out at 4:37 on a drive that was set up by an interception and 51-yard return by Alex Pulley.
Miami got a quick nine points in the second quarter indirectly set up when Payton was intercepted by Heath Jones at the Hornets’ 2-yard line.
On the next play, quarterback Lane Enyart was sacked in the end zone for a safety to make it 12-0 at 6:31.
Then on the free kick, Burris set sail on a 68-yard runback down the home sideline.
The PAT kick by Judd ballooned the score to 19-0 at 6:20.
“What I have preached all week is that this week is more about the program going forward,” Rice said. “That last win you can chalk up to whatever, but this week is how we practice, how we operate, how we lead into the off-season.”
Rice praised the play of Lane Giles and Folks in the game.
“Both of them really played well last week,” Rice said.
Payton completed 10 passes for 180 yards and the Dogs netted 122 yards rushing.
Folks had a season-best 106 yards on 32 carries.
Burris had seven receptions for 128 yards and two scores.
Grove is attempting to avoid its first winless season since 1987.
The Ridgerunners dropped to 0-9 with a 41-14 loss to 10th-ranked Tulsa Cascia Hall on Friday, Oct. 27.
The Commandoes were up 21-0 at the half but bumped the score to 35-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
Grove lost several players due to injury in the game, according to the Grove Sun.
However, quarterback Toby Cearley, who had missed the previous four games under concussion protocol.
This is the second season for Grove head coach Ron Culwell. A 34-year coaching veteran who has been at Grove for 10 years, moved up when former Northeastern Oklahoma A&M head coach Mike Loyd departed for Rogers, Arkansas, following the 2015 season.
“They’re pretty beat up, but they have faced some similar struggles that we have, being a young team playing in a really tough district,” Rice said. “There is not an edge in rivalry games. Look at OU and OSU. There are years one should have blown the other out.”