By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
The best thing about playing Tulsa Union is getting the game out of the way and being able to look back in the rear view mirror while leaving it behind.
Playing Tulsa Union has been a painful experience for the Plainsmen over the past two decades and Friday night’s 63-7 loss to the Redskins was no exception. Of course it’s not like the Plainsmen are alone, as the Redskins are defending four-time 6A champs and until their streak was stopped last season, had won 94 straight district games. So, there have been many victims of the behemoth school.
How rough has it been for the Plainsmen against Union? After winning the first four games of the series, the Plainsmen have now dropped 17 straight with an average margin of defeat of over 20 points. But Friday’s loss was by the largest margin in the series, topping the 48-2 loss to Union in 2003 when the Plainsmen finished 6-4 under Tom Cobble. It also nearly set the Plainsmen all-time record for margin of defeat, but that mark still belongs to the 1916 Enid football team, which dropped a 60-0 contest to Norman.
Enid last defeated Union 13-0 in 1991 when the Plainsmen finished 10-3 and made it to the state semifinals.
Not very sporting
Union’s decision to go for an onside kick while up 35-0 in the second quarter raised several eyebrows on press row and a few coaching hackles as well. It also brought back memories of another less-than-sporting moment in recent Union versus Enid history.
The Redskins successfully converted on the onside kick and recovered the ball on Enid’s 28-yard line. Union was kicking off from Enid’s 45-yard line after the Plainsmen were assessed a 15-yard penalty following the extra point that put Union up 35-0. Union proceeded to score following the onside kick to make it 42-0.
The onside kick was reminiscent of Union’s 51-14 win at Enid in 2010 when the Redskins, up 48-14 and inside Enid’s 10-yard line, only needed to take a knee a couple of times to run out the clock, but chose instead to trot out the field goal unit to make it 51-14.
Friday night’s onside kick did not set well with Enid head coach Steve Chard.
“There’s ways to handle things … the way they handle things and the way I would handle it,” Chard said. “Everybody can judge that for themselves. “
For the second straight game, Enid’s ground attack was shut down. The Plainsmen managed only 13 yards rushing against Union, following a 24-yard rushing performance the week before in Enid’s 24-7 loss to Tulsa Washington.
Leading rusher Seth Handley was held to 8 yards on seven carries Friday night.
Enid quarterback Chance Pryor had a tough outing as well, throwing a season-high four interceptions after throwing only six picks through Enid’s first five games. The turnovers helped give Union a short field to work with.
“It’s hard to overcome turnovers against a good team,” Chard said. “You, at least, like to make them earn their stuff they get. You give them a short field, then you’re asking for trouble and we gave them a short field a few times.”
The average starting position for Union was from its own 44-yard line, while Enid’s average starting position was from its own 26.
Union also dominated time of possession, holding on to the ball for 38:23 to Enid’s 9:37.
There was a bright spot for Enid Friday night as junior Sam Clemens recorded his first career touchdown reception, hauling in an 8-yard pass from Pryor to break up Union’s shutout bid late in the third quarter to make the score 56-7.
Junior wide receiver Aaron Beagle, Enid’s leader with three touchdown receptions this season, missed Friday’s game after breaking his hand during one-on-one drills Wednesday at practice. Beagle is expected to have a pin placed in the hand this week. His status will be determined further, but there is some hope he may be able to suit up on defense against Ponca City on Friday.
Also missing from the lineup for the second straight week was tight end Steven Hocker, who continues to sit out with a personal medical condition. The latest word is he may be given the green light by doctors on Monday.
Offense – Sam Clemens
Defense – Francisco Cuellar
The Plainsmen return home Friday for a game against rival Ponca City.
The Plainsmen have dominated the series recently against the Wildcats and currently own a seven-game winning streak in the series, including a 52-34 win last season at home. Enid holds a 50-30-6 edge in the Plainsmen’s longest running series. During its current streak, the Plainsmen have defeated Ponca City by an average margin of more than 23 points.
The Wildcats are 0-6 this season and are coming off of a 47-17 loss to Sand Springs on Friday and have been outscored this season by a combined score of 236-66.