The Coalgate Wildcats pitched a second-half shutout, holding on for dear life in a thrilling 22-21 win over high-powered Frederick Friday night in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs at Donald Mike Mayer Field.
The Wildcats kept the same Bombers club out of the end zone over the final 24 minutes of Friday’s tense contest that averaged over 50 points per game throughout the regular season and had exploded for 90 points in a Week 10 victory over Cordell.
Coalgate improved to 7-4 on the year and earned the opportunity to face top-ranked and unbeaten Millwood in the second round of the playoffs this Friday night in Oklahoma City. Frederick was sent packing at 8-3.
“It was amazing. I'm so proud of my guys. They all played so well,” said first-year coach Wade Boyles amidst a post-game celebration. “They played together and they never quit believing.”
Not many would have believed Coalgate — or any other 2A team — could hold the Bombers without a score for an entire half. Frederick had forged a 21-16 halftime lead.
“At halftime we made a couple of adjustments and the kids adjusted on the fly. The kids did everything we asked them to do. They just played their guts out. They left everything they had out here,” Boyles said.
Not only did Frederick have the lead at halftime, they also had all the momentum thanks to a goal line stand in the closing moments of the second quarter.
After the Bombers had taken their first lead of the game — 21-16 — on a 9-yard quarterback keeper by senior standout Dylan Brite (who entered the game with 2,760 passing yards and 31 touchdowns) at the 6:14 mark of the second quarter, the Wildcats tried to answer just before the break.
Coalgate quarterback Nolan Fanning hit tight end Lance Walker with an 11-yard strike on a third-and-nine play to keep the drive alive and later connected with Brandon Long — who had a step-and-a-half on his defender — for a pretty 39-yard gain to get the Wildcats close. On first-and-goal from the 9, a run by Chris Welch and two by Shay Loudermilk netted just six yards. After a timeout with 46.6 seconds left, Fanning tried to muscle his way into the end zone on fourth down via a QB sneak, but the officials marked him less than a length of the football short of the goal line.
Coalgate got the ball first in the third quarter and on the third play from scrimmage, Fanning — with a pair of defenders breathing down his neck — hit a wide open Dale Powell around the 30. With no Frederick player within 15 yards of him, the speedy Powell easily bolted down the right sideline for the 54-yard touchdown. The two-point pass fell incomplete, but Coalgate had regained the lead at the 10:48 mark of the third period.
Amazingly enough, neither team would score again — thanks to a number of big defensive plays by both teams.
Frederick tried some trickery to try and move its offense down the field. On fourth-and-14 from the Coalgate 44, Brite took a direct snap with the Bombers in punt formation but his pass was broken up on an alert play by Loudermilk.
But Brite made a play of his own, intercepting a Fanning pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage to set Frederick up near midfield.
The Bombers got all the way down to the CHS 14 before coming away empty-handed after junior kicker Rojelio Barajas missed wide left on a 30-yard field goal attempt with 10:48 to play in the game.
On Frederick’s next possession, a scrambling Brite avoided Coalgate defenders long enough for running back Stephen Nelms to get open down the left sideline. The two connected for a 32-yard gain to set up the Bombers with a first-and-goal from the CHS 8. However, Long killed that Frederick drive with an interception.
Fanning got Coalgate out of some trouble with a nice 41-yard punt out of his own end zone that gave Frederick the ball at their own 49. On third and long from the Coalgate 39, Brite passed the ball to Nelms on a bubble screen to the right side. But Coalgate defender Stewart Welch delivered a bone-jarring hit, knocking the pigskin loose. Bradley Stowe jumped on the ball for the fumble recovery to once again stymie the Bombers.
Coalgate took over with 4:32 remaining and kept it the rest of the way, converting three first downs on a final drive that ended with a couple of kneel-downs on the Frederick 10-yard-line. Fanning had the big play of the drive, running right through the heart of the Frederick defense for a 20-yard gain that got the Wildcats into the red zone, but more importantly a big first down.
Frederick took the opening kickoff and marched from its own 35 to the Coalgate 28 before Stowe sacked Brite for a 10-yard loss on fourth down to end an early threat.
Coalgate took over from there and served the Bombers a steady diet of Loudermilk runs. His first and last of six straight were the best. He gained 22 yards on his first touch and scored from 11 yards out with 6:39 left in the opening period. Powell added a two-point run to give Coalgate an 8-0 lead.
The Bombers engineered a nice, nine-play, 59-yard drive with Brite capping it off with a 4-yard scoring keeper. Nelms accounted for 48 of the yards on the drive and Brite’s two-point run tied the game at 8-8. Nelms led the Bombers with 126 yards on 22 carries.
A holding penalty put Coalgate in a big hole on its next drive. But facing a first-and-22 from his own 10, Powell slipped through a hole on the left side, sped into the Frederick secondary and outraced the Bombers’ defense all the way down the sideline for a 90-yard touchdown run. Loudermilk scored on the two-point conversion to put the Wildcats on top 16-8 with 3:02 still left in the first quarter. Powell (115) and Loudermilk (84) accounted for 199 of Coalgate’s 244 rushing yards. Powell would add 69 yards receiving.
Back came the Bombers. Brite guided his offense down the field on an impressive 10-play, 77-yard march that ended with a Nelms 6-yard scoring run. A 30-yard scramble by Brite on fourth-and-inches was the big play of the drive. Stowe stuffed a two-point run attempt, leaving Coalgate on top 16-14 with 11:52 left before halftime.
Frederick edged Coalgate 371-363 in total yards but the impressive Coalgate defense limited the Bombers to just 119 total yards in the second half.
The Wildcat ‘D’ will be tested again this week when it faces a Millwood squad that has scored 543 points so far this year and plastered Oklahoma Christian School 52-21 in a first-round playoff game.
“They're a very talented football team, but our kids are playing really good right now and I'm confident in their abilities. We'll step up to the plate and see what we can do,” Boyles said.