COALGATE – Austin Lambert threw for three touchdowns, Auston Crank caught two of them and Blade Horton ran for a pair of scores as the Coalgate Wildcats upended the Stratford Bulldogs, 36-31, in a wild shootout Friday night.
The two teams combined for 33 points (19 by Stratford and 14 from Coalgate) in the final 8:31 of the contest.
“I was proud of our guys’ effort in the second half, and they showed some guts and heart to battle back and take the lead in the fourth quarter,” said Stratford head coach Michael Blackburn. “We just have to eliminate some big plays (by the opposition) and do a better job of finishing.”
The Wildcats improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in District 2A-4 play, while Stratford dipped to 2-6 and 1-3 after three straight losses.
Horton’s 62-yard run with 1:44 left pushed Coalgate to a 36-25 advantage and Clint Cosby’s 17-yard TD pass to Kyler Wade with 56 seconds remaining clipped the Wildcat lead to the five-point margin at game’s end.
Coalgate’s Austin Lambert connected with Crank on scoring passes of 4 and 3 yards and hooked up with Tyler Lambert on a 21-yard touchdown pass. Austin Lambert was 13-of-20-passing for 113 yards.
Meanwhile for Stratford, Cosby was 10-of-13 passing for 124 yards and two TDs, including a 7-yarder to Gus Smith in the second quarter and the 17-yarder to Wade late in the game. However, Cosby was intercepted twice.
In the rushing department, Daylen Wood ran for 153 yards on 22 carries and scored off runs of 44 and 9 yards. Cosby also scored a touchdown off a 1-yard keeper.
Wade added 95 yards on 12 carries and caught three passes for 37 yards, including the one late score.
The Bulldogs compiled 398 yards of offense, compared to Coalgate’s 346. Each team achieved 15 first downs.
Wood’s 44-yard scoring run lifted Stratford to an early 6-0 lead after the PAT failed with 10:16 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats responded with 4:11 to go in the first on Austin Lambert’s 4-yard TD pass to Crank. Ian Conley then ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-6 Coalgate edge.
Austin Lambert increased the Wildcats’ advantage with a 21-yard scoring pass to Tyler Lambert. Horton then ran in a 2-point conversion to make it 16-6 with 10:47 remaining before halftime.
Stratford clipped the deficit to 16-12 on Cosby’s 7-yard scoring aerial to Smith with 7:26 left in the second period. The 2-point conversion run failed, as Coalgate maintained the four-point cushion.
But the Wildcats went on to a 22-12 halftime lead, thanks to Austin Lambert’s 3-yard scoring toss to Crank. The 2-point conversion run was no good.
The two teams actually played through a scoreless third quarter before the Bulldogs jumped to a 25-22 lead in the fourth with two straight scores.
The first came with 8:31 left when Wood scored off a 9-yard run. The conversion run failed as the score remained at 22-18.
Then with 3:52 to go, Cosby’s 1-yard touchdown keeper and Wade’s point-after kick made it 25-22.
But two straight TD runs by Horton — the first from a yard out with 3:52 remaining and the second off a 62-yard scamper with 1:44 left — put the game out of reach. Horton also had a 2-point conversion run after the long touchdown run to make it 36-25. He finished with 22 carries for 147 yards.
The Cosby-to-Wade 17-yard scoring pass pulled Stratford within 36-31, but the Bulldogs failed on the 2-point conversion as it was too little, too late for the visitors.
Defensively for Stratford, Kashaun Barber led the way with 14 tackles, Wood followed with 11, and Wade and Dakota Rodgers ended up with nine apiece. Colton Dempsey had eight stops, and J.J. Gallup and Bodee Badstreet finished with six apiece. Gallup also registered a quarterback sack.
The Bulldogs host Atoka Thursday night, while Coalgate visits Kingston the same night.