By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
SAND SPRINGS, Okla. —
Seth Handley’s 46-yard third quarter touchdown reception brought Enid to within seven points, but it wasn’t enough as the Plainsmen were unable to overcome a 21-point halftime deficit, falling 35-21 at Sand Springs Friday night in the season finale.
The Plainsmen finished the season out of the playoffs at 3-7 and 1-6 in District 6A-1. Sand Springs moves on to the playoffs after finishing 8-2 and 5-2 in district play.
Enid head coach Steve Chard was pleased with his team’s effort after falling behind early.
“We adjusted and played hard and won the second half, which doesn’t get you much,” he said. “We’re proud of how we competed against a good team whose only losses are to (district champion) Owasso and (defending 6A champion) Tulsa Union.
“We’re pretty pleased with the effort and improvement we’ve shown the last few weeks.”
After falling behind 28-7 at halftime, the Plainsmen staged a third-quarter rally, scoring on their second possession of the second half when quarterback Chance Pryor found tight end Steven Hocker on fourth-and-two for a 30-yard touchdown that capped a 66-yard drive. Pryor had earlier kept the drive alive with a 24-yard run.
The Plainsmen then made it a one-touchdown game after stopping Sand Springs on fourth-and-four from the EHS 12-yard line when Raymond McLauren, who rushed for four touchdowns on the night, was stopped at the nine-yard line.
“We played some good defense (in the second half) and got them guessing a little bit,” Chard said.
Enid drove 91 yards on its next possession, including using fullback Raeshaan Finley out of the Wildcat formation. But the big play was Pryor’s 46-yard touchdown pass (his third of the night) to Handley to make it 28-21.
However, McLauren’s fourth touchdown of the night, a 23-yard run, on Sand Springs’ next possession put the Sandites up 35-21 as time expired in the third quarter. McLauren finished with a game-high 162 yards rushing.
The teams traded turnovers in the fourth quarter and Enid drove deep into Sandites territory late, but an interception in the end zone with 57 seconds left put an end to the Plainsmen’s comeback attempt.
After surrendering 326 yards of offense in the first half, Enid outgained Sand Springs 216-188 in the second half.
“They are not an easy team to beat on Senior Night,” Chard said. “But we had our chances.”
The Plainsmen found themselves battling back from the opening possession of the game.
The Sandites wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, driving 60 yards on their opening drive as McLauren, Sand Springs’ leading rusher, capped off the four-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. McLauren carried the ball on the Sandites’ first three plays.
“You know that (opening) drive was the only drive we didn’t play well and we adjusted after that,” Chard said.
The Plainsmen defense stiffened on the next two Sand Springs possessions, including stopping the Sandites on fourth-and-goal from Enid’s three-yard line, but the Plainsmen were unable to move the ball from deep in their own end as the Sandites took over deep in Enid territory at the Plainsmen 27-yard line, following a 24-yard punt.
Sand Springs took quick advantage, as McLauren needed only one play, taking it in on a run up the middle to give the Sandites a 14-0 first quarter lead
The Plainsmen responded with their only score of the half, marching 71 yards in 10 plays, aided by two critical third-down pass interference penalties by Sand Springs. Pryor capped the drive by finding junior Aaron Beagle in the end zone on a 25-yard pass play. It was Beagle’s team-leading fourth touchdown reception of the season, bringing Enid to within 14-7 early in the second quarter.
But the Sandites again responded quickly, going 71 yards in two plays, powered by a 70-yard pass from Cody Hale to Hayden Reeder that looked initially like a sure interception on a poorly thrown ball, but Plainsmen safety Marshawn Mills mis-ºtimed his leap and Reeder pulled down the pass. Reeder appeared headed to the end zone, but Alex Lofton chased Reeder down and tackled him at the one-yard line. One play later, McLauren scored his third touchdown of the half for a 21-7 Sand Springs lead.
Enid, which was limited to 50 yards in offense in the first half, turned the ball over on downs after being stopped at its own 49-yard line on fourth-down-and-one. However, Mills made up for his earlier miscue by picking off Hale at the EHS 4-yard line to temporarily stop the Sandites.
Sand Springs was again able to take advantage of field position after holding Enid deep in its own end, driving 24 yards, capping off its first-half scoring when Hale found Cody Hilderbrandt for an 8-yard touchdown for a 28-7 halftime lead.
Pryor finished the game 11-of-25 with 152 yards passing and three touchdowns. Handley, who entered the game with 1,232 yards rushing, was held to eight yards on 10 carries.
“You know, the future is bright,” Chard said.
“We have some good kids coming back. We had a good group of seniors. Hopefully we are making good progress. This is a tough league. Every one we play is bigger than us and we’ve got to get to work in the weight room in the off-season.”