MIAMI — Miami’s defense limited Oologah to a field goal on its first possession.
But the Mustangs scored on its next six on their way to a 45-21 District 4A-3 football game here Thursday, Oct. 18.
“I felt our kids showed up to play, had a couple of defensive stops and they had to settle for a field goal, which was huge,” Miami head coach Zach Gardner said.
“We had a chance to go up 7-3 and they just big-played us with the emotions and stuff. We let them go 50-60 yards. That’s not easy when they do that.”
Four of the Mustangs’ six touchdowns came on plays of 20 yards or more, including a tide turning 88-yard strike from quarterback Blake Salt to Jared Taylor with just seven seconds left in the first half.
That came on a first-and-forever play that saw the Mustangs flagged twice for holding.
“They are playing well,” Gardner said of Oologah, which now has won three in a row, including an 18-15 overtime decision last week against old nemesis Wagoner. “They just big-played us to death. That’s what separated it early.”
It was Miami that had a big play during its first touchdown drive. Actually make it three since the Dogs converted on fourth down twice.
Payton moved the sticks with a 6-yard carry and Seth Swingle caught a 46-yard TD pass on a fourth-and-4 halfback option pass.
The extra point by Skyler Judd gave MHS a 7-3 advantage.
It took Oologah seven plays to get the go-ahead score on a 4-yard run by Ty Dixon on the first play of the second quarter.
“We knew that we were going to have to have some big plays go our way,” Gardner said. “That was the philosophy behind the play-calling.”
MHS tried a throwback from Freeman to Damion Burris on the ensuing kickoff and gained 16 yards.
However, four plays later, Payton was intercepted at midfield.
The Wardogs’ other points in the game came on a 3-yard run by Payton in the third quarter and a 32-yard zigzagging run by Freeman with 1:52 left in the game.
“We can’t ask any more of our kids,” Gardner said.
Freeman ran for 120 yards on 19 carries while Payton carried 20 times for 111 yards.
“I don’t know how many times they had Damion tackled for a loss and he turned it into positive 5-of 6-yard gains,” Gardner said. “He played well.”
Caden Folks carried the ball only twice for 11 yards.
“We kept with that scenario (Freeman and Payton handling the bulk of the workload) this week because Folks is a little banged up,” Gardner said. “He didn’t have many carries tonight. We are nursing him back to health and should be close to 100 percent by next week.
“I know you can’t win that way by holding kids back, but I never felt comfortable to have the opportunity to chance it.”
Thanks to Freeman and Payton, Miami generated 350 yards in total offense, with 253 of that via the run.
Payton was 11-of-19 passing for 51 yards. The touchdown pass by Freeman was his only attempt on the night.
Oologah, which beat MHS for the ninth time in the last 10 meetings, finished with 500 yards in total offense, eighth most by a Wardog opponent.
Salt completed all nine of his pass attempts for 262 yards and three scores. Zac Wright headed up the Mustangs’ ground game with 194 yards on 17 carries.
The loss dropped the Wardogs to 3-5 overall — with four of the losses coming at home — and 1-4 in district play.
“We need to compete,” Gardner said. “We have two opportunities. We go on the road to Cleveland and we feel like we have opportunity to win. First and foremost, you have go to feel you can win to go win.
The Dogs wrap up the season at home on Nov. 2 with Bristow on a night where a statue honoring Steve Owens will be unveiled.