By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
WEATHERFORD, Okla. — —
Pond Creek-Hunter sophomore Harley Comeau electrified the Panther stands and sideline early in Saturday’s Class B State Championship game, taking Laverne’s opening kickoff 95 yards across aptly-named Fast Lane Field for a score and 7-0 lead.
But things only got worse from there for the Panthers.
Laverne ran around, over and through the Panthers, rushing for 474 yards and scoring 30 third-quarter points to key a gold ball victory and a perfect 14-0 season, 50-19.
“It feels great,” said Laverne sophomore running back Dalton Birch, who rushed for 161 yards and three scores and afterward took turns bear hugging a line of teammates and family. “This is probably the biggest moment of my life, bar none.”
PC-Hunter held the Tigers in check through two quarters, allowing long touchdown runs from Birch and Trevor Harris, but otherwise stayed close, halting Laverne on fourth and goal to trail 14-7 at intermission.
But Tucker Rolf opened the third quarter with a 70-yard touchdown run on Laverne’s first play from scrimmage in the second half, giving the Tigers a 22-7 lead and opening a run of 22 unanswered points that all but sank the Panthers’ hopes of avenging a Nov. 2 loss to the Tigers, PC-Hunter’s only other defeat of the season.
“It was a combination of a lot of things,” PC-Hunter coach David Kerr said. “The big plays got us, and we just didn’t convert on a few opportunities. But you got to give them a lot of credit. A lot of that had to do with them. It’s one of those teams that every time they touch the ball, you’re scared to death because they can break one, and they did quite a bit.”
Laverne rushed the ball for 233 yards in the frame behind Rolf’s 70-yard run, a 54-yard scoring scamper from Birch and a 62-yard carry from Harris to PC-Hunter’s 1 that ended in a 2-yard score for Harris two plays later.
“We had a pep talk,” Birch said. “Our seniors, they were telling everyine in the locker room, ‘You’ve got two quarters, leave it all out, we’ve got to go.’”
While Laverne’s run game thrived, PC-Hunter’s never gained the traction it typically enjoyed in the regular season and the playoffs’ first three rounds.
The Panthers finished with 106 yards on the ground, largely sticking to the pass — quarterback Josh Irvin finished with 223 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 16-of-27 passing — in the game’s later stages as the team’s cause grew more desperate.
“They’re an awfully good defensive team, and we knew that going in,” Kerr said. “We had a hard time running the ball the first time against them. We tried to make a few adjustments, and they worked a little bit, but that team over there is just too good.”
PC-Hunter finished the season 12-2.
“I just told (my team) I’m extremely proud of them,” Kerr said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do all season long.”