MIAMI — Will this be the week Miami finally breaks through and wins a close game?
The Wardogs — who travel to Oologah Friday night — have won just once all season, but four of the six losses have been by a touchdown.
They lost to Tahlequah Sequoyah, 28-21; Grove, 28-21; Catoosa, 26-20, and Tulsa McLain, 36-29.
“We’re still searching, trying to find our district win,” head coach Zach Gardner said. “We’ve lost four games now by a touchdown. It’s tough because we can’t get over the hump. We just want our kids to show up and compete, improve week to week.”
Miami had its chances against McLain, getting a safety with 5:43 left, then just under 2 minutes later, got a 2-yard run from Tanner Maple and the extra point by Skyler Judd to pull to within 10.
The Dogs used a pooch kick to perfection, taking over at the McLain 26 but bogged down at the 9-yard line.
They did get three points out of the possession when Judd toed a 27-yard field goal to make it a one-touchdown game.
The Titans got the ensuing kickoff and ran seven plays to kill off the remaining three minutes.
Three of McLain’s touchdowns came on runs of 39 and 50 yards and they also got an 88-yard TD pass.
“We didn't do a very good job of tackling in space defensively, so that’s something we’ve really keyed on in practice this week,” Gardner said.
Turnovers also were a problem.
The Wardogs had two interceptions and two fumbles over the course of the game.
McLain converted two of those into points.
“Turnovers were our Achilles’ heel,” Gardner said. “We caused some (two) and special teams kept us in the game. We feel like in the long run, that’s what got us beat because offensively we just stopped ourselves, put the ball on the ground.”
One interesting stat in the game: neither team attempted a punt.
That is just the fifth time in school history MHS had no punts.
The other times were against Grove in 2018, Pryor, 2007; Claremore, 1955, and Pittsburg, Kansas, 1941.
McLain was penalized 14 times, fifth most in a game, for 101 yards.
Wagoner had 16 a week earlier for a whopping 175 yards.
The Wardogs are hopeful of getting starting quarterback Gavin Payton back after missing last week’s game with McLain under concussion protocol.
Gardner said Payton was to have seen his doctor Wednesday.
Leading receiver Damion Burris at will be held out because of a nagging collarbone injury. He landed on it awkwardly during a tackle out of bounds.
Oologah is 3-4, 1-3 in 4A-3 play, the lone district win a 49-14 decision against McLain.
The Mustangs won their first two games, topping Collinsville 13-12 and Skiatook 34-29.
Since then, they’ve dropped four of their last five, including 34-31 to No. 10 Cleveland, 43-21 to No. 6 Bristow and 38-19 to third-ranked Wagoner last Friday.
Wagoner led 24-0 at the half then pulled away.
The Mustangs’ touchdowns came on 17- and 47-yard passes from Blake Salt to Brennen Davis and a 1-yard run by Salt.
Salt completed all eight of his pass attempts for 257 yards and three touchdowns in Oologah’s 45-21 win over the Wardogs last season.
Wagoner’s defense limited Oologah to 23 yards on 23 rushing attempts.
“They have some weak spots up front, but they still have some skill kids that can get it done,” Gardner said of the Mustangs. “Traditionally, their kids have found a way to win. Right now, they are struggling in district play with only one win, but they’re in the same boat as us — trying to find some way to win.”
Miami’s lone win was a 38-7 romp over winless Claremore Sequoyah in the season opener.
The Dogs face a Murderer’s Row finish, hosting Cleveland Nov. 1 then traveling to Bristow the following Friday.
Bristow and Wagoner are tied for the district lead at 4-0, Cleveland is 3-1 (the lone setback 36-5 at Bristow) and Catoosa has a precarious hold on fourth at 2-2.