Fourth quarter heroics push Southwestern past Southeastern

From SWOSU Sports
Doug Self, Sports Information Director

WEATHERFORD – On a picturesque Saturday afternoon at ASAP Energy Field, the SWOSU Football team overcame five turnovers and outscored Southeastern Oklahoma State 14-3 in the fourth quarter – including the game-winning touchdown with just 20 seconds remaining – to defeat the Savage Storm 37-33.

The Bulldogs found themselves facing a 17-7 deficit late in the first quarter after turning the ball over on three of their first four drives. A pair of touchdown passes from Marc Evans, one to Matt Farris and the other to JR Omigie, helped SWOSU tie the game at 20-20 late in the first half, but for the second straight week the Bulldogs allowed a jump-ball touchdown late in the half and Southeastern took a 27-20 lead to the break.

Southeastern got a field goal on their opening drive of the second half and recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set themselves up with great field position but the Bulldogs defense held on fourth down when the Savage Storm faked a field goal and got stopped inside the five yard line. SWOSU’s answer came in the way of a 17-play drive to conclude the third quarter, capped off with a 37-yard field goal from Tyler Peterson that made it a 30-23 lead for the Storm after three.

The fourth quarter belonged to the Bulldogs, who forced a Southeastern punt after six plays and got the ball at their own 20 yard line. Evans directed the Bulldogs all 80 yards in just four plays, finding D.J. Jones in the end zone behind the Storm for a 20-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 30-30 with 9:26 to play.

The final nine minutes of the game saw each team make a long scoring drive, but the difference was SWOSU’s defense holding the Savage Storm out of the end zone. SWOSU’s Dominic Blue made a great read on a bootleg pass on third and short, sacking SE quarterback CB Cantwell for a 15-yard loss that held the Storm to a field goal on a 12-play drive that covered 32 yards.

Trailing 33-30, SWOSU got the ball back with 4:13 to play at their own 25 yard line. The drive was nearly over before it started as the Dawgs found themselves facing a fourth-and-seven on their first set of downs. SWOSU called timeout and dialed up a play to senior tight end Collin Bricker, who made the reception for 10 yards to move the chains and jump start the drive. Evans completed a 22-yard pass to JR Omigie to get the Bulldogs across midfield on what would be one of his final passing attempts of the night.

From that point on, SWOSU relied on the running back tandem of Karltrell Henderson and Kenneth Martey to gain the final 40 yards of the game. Henderson broke off runs of 13 and 19 yards to get the Dawgs in the red zone, then Martey finished the deal with three hard-nosed and physical runs that punished the Southeastern defenders who stepped in his path. With SWOSU facing second and four at the nine, Martey started an inside run before breaking it outside and side stepping the final Storm player in his path before plunging into the end zone for the go-ahead score. Tyler Peterson’s extra point made the score 37-33 with just 20 seconds to play.

Southeastern had one last chance, completing two passes to move into SWOSU territory before throwing one final Hail Mary pass to the end zone. This time, however, the Bulldog defenders stepped up to the plate and batted the ball out of bounds and sent the entire west sideline of ASAP Energy Field on to the field in celebration of the Bulldogs first victory of the season.

SWOSU rushed for 232 yards on 37 carries, getting 116 yards and a touchdown from Karltrell Henderson and 57 yards and the game-winning score from Kenneth Martey. Marc Evans finished 25-for-37 through the air for 295 yards and three touchdowns to overcome a pair of interceptions. JR Omigie was his top target, catching five balls for 55 and a score while eight other receivers also caught a pass in the game.

Defensively, SWOSU held the Savage Storm almost 100 yards below their rushing average with 121 yards on 40 carries for just 3.0 yards per carry. The Dawgs got 12 tackles (nine solo, three assist) and 1.5 tackles for loss from senior safety Conner Bays, who moves into fifth in career tackles at SWOSU in the NCAA Division II era with 232. TJ Harris was active on the defensive line with nine tackles and one tackle for loss, while Deric Robertson had an interception, Clay Wilkerson recovered a fumble and Dominic Blue had two sacks that set the Storm back 28 yards.

“I’m so proud of our kids for hanging in there and fighting through adversity, not just today but this first month of the season,” SWOSU Head Coach Dan Cocannouer said following the win. “We put ourselves in some bad positions with turnovers and those kinds of things, but our defense got stops when they needed to and our coaches dialed up the right plays to allow our kids to go out and win the ball game. I couldn’t be more proud of my staff and these guys for their effort today.”

With the win, SWOSU improves to 1-4 on the year heading into another in-state showdown in Ada next Saturday against East Central.