By Michael Kinney
MIDWEST CITY – Josh Mars felt it early.
The first time the Piedmont quarterback came to the sideline, he knew right away No. 1 seed Midwest City was in for a long night.
As the snow fell and the temperatures dropped, Mars turned to one of his teammates and said the Bombers don’t want it. His words proved to be prophetic as the Wildcats rolled to a 60-41 victory against the top-seeded Bombers in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs at Midwest City.
“We’re just more physical. We’re stronger than them,” said Mars. “We gave it to them.”
What the Wildcats gave the Bombers (8-3) was an old-school type of game as they racked up almost 500 yards of rushing offense. That included three separate players going over 150 yards each.
“I think the key was just playing hard-nosed football,” said Cannon Wood, one of those rushers who had at least 150 yards. “We know how to do that and it’s just about lining up every snap and just giving it 100 percent.”
As soon as the game started, the snow started to fall. But that didn’t stop Wood, who broke off a 64-yard touchdown run on the Wildcats’ first offensive possession.
“I just saw that little crease down the field, and I just put pressed on the gas pedal and said, ‘I’m gone,’” Wood said.
That score kick-started a hectic offensive explosion between the two teams as the Wildcats took a 21-15 lead. While Piedmont used big plays in the run game to put points on the board, the Bombers scored on long, time-consuming drives.
But with seven minutes left in the second quarter, Piedmont came up with a defensive stop and forced MWC to punt. On the ensuing play, Israel Robles sprinted up the middle for a 64-yard touchdown run to put the Cats up, 29-15.
Trailing by two scores, Midwest City had to start opening up its offense. Quarterback DeAngelo Irvin had the game’s first pass attempt with six minutes left in the half.
MWC proceeded to go on a five-minute drive that culminated with a 1-yard plunge from Derrion Rogers. They missed the two-point conversion attempt and trailed, 29-21, at halftime.
Piedmont’s Kolten Luschen opened the third quarter with a 24-yard touchdown run. Even though it had stopped snowing, he was able to make MWC defenders fall as they attempted to tackle him.
However, Irvin answered right back on the Bombers’ next possession. He sprinted 74 yards into the end zone on a quarterback keeper.
The two teams exchanged another pair of touchdowns before closing out the third quarter. But because MWC failed on its two-point conversion, Piedmont stretched its advantage to 10, 45-35.
The Bombers needed to force a turnover or get a stop at some point if they were going to make a comeback.
Instead, Piedmont drove down the field to start the fourth quarter and reached the end zone on a Mars touchdown run to put the Wildcats up, 53-35.
Midwest City had no answer for the Piedmont attack. The Cats ran their option attack up the gut of the Bombers’ defense all night and racked up big chunks of yardage.
Mars closed out the night with a 52-yard scamper into the end zone for his third touchdown of the evening. It also put him over the 150-yard rushing mark.
Wood and Robles joined Mars with just more than 150 yards on the ground as well.
The Wildcats not only didn’t attempt a single pass, but they also finished the night with zero turnovers and zero punts.
“We just felt like we were more physical than them and we just played grown-man football,” Mars said. “They couldn’t keep up. You don’t need to throw the ball to win football games.”
Piedmont (7-4) will face McAlester in quarterfinal action Nov. 18. The Wildcats are confident if they can continue to play their game, they can play with anyone.
“Next week, I want to come out with the W,” Wood said. “It’s going be a good game. Some good athletes, but I think we can do it.”
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