Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The Durant Lions landed a couple of second-half haymakers in their battle against Ada Friday night at Southeastern’s Paul Laird Field.
But the Cougars simply wouldn’t go down for the count.
Ada running back Jeremiah Larry scored the game-tying touchdown with 1:45 left in the game and Todd Penick’s PAT that followed gave the Cougars breathtaking 36-35 come-from-behind win.
Ada heads into District 4A-2 play with a 2-1 record, while Durant heads into Week 4 at 1-2.
The Cougars had trailed by 15 midway through the third quarter before beginning their remarkable rally.
“I’m so proud of our kids for just staying after it. I keep repeating it, but they just stayed after it,” Ada head coach Matt Weber said amidst the postgame celebration. “That was a good football team we beat tonight. It was a good win, and it came at a good time.”
After Durant scored on a 1-yard TD plunge on a “TubbsDozer” play by Layton Tubbs and Evan Armour nailed the PAT kick, the Lions were celebrating a 35-20 lead at the 6:18 mark of the third quarter.
Montrell Black gave Ada great field position after returning the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to midfield. The Cougars needed just three plays — capped by a 26-yard touchdown run by Larry — to get into the end zone. A pass fell incomplete on a two-point try, leaving Ada trailing 35-26 at the 4:54 mark.
Durant quarterback Zac Cater, in the midst of an incredible night where he threw for 324 yards and four touchdowns, made one of his few mistakes of the game when he tried to force a pass to a receiver while under heavy duress. Ada’s Cory Kilby snared the tipped ball out of the air for an interception, ending that Durant threat at the Ada 26-yard line.
The Lions looked like they might have put the nail in Ada’s coffin when linebacker Chris Sprouse picked up an Ada fumble and appeared to have returned it 64 yards for a score. But a penalty kept the turnover from turning into a touchdown.
Then, on Durant’s second offensive play that followed, Garrett Beam got the ball back for Ada with a fumble recovery of his own.
A 42-yard punt by Kilby that got a favorable roll pinned Durant at its own 11-yard line. And on a third down play, the Lions coughed up the ball again, this time with Cason Teel jumping on a Durant fumble.
That gave Ada the ball just 20 yards from paydirt, but the Cougars were forced to settle for a 31-yard Penick field goal that just slipped over the crossbar and trimmed the Durant lead to 35-29 withy 6:48 to play.
After the Ada defense — which held Durant scoreless over the final 17:42 of the contest after the Lions marched up and down the field for a good portion of the game — stiffened again, a 15-yard shanked punt gave the Cougars the ball near midfield.
Larry, who rushed for 138 yards, used a nifty 28-yard scamper to get Ada close. After Ada quarterback Tryce Prince gained nine yards on a keeper down to the 3, Larry scored on a rush around the left side that knotted the game at 35-35 before Penick’s kick gave the Cougars their first lead since 7-0 and the improbable win.
“The good thing about him is, he might not even have known how important (the kick) was. That was big,” Weber said.
Durant got the ball to its own 30 but on a 3rd-and-1 play, running back Kooper Cavender was stuffed for a four-yard loss. Cater’s fourth-down pass was too high and two kneel-downs later, Ada had secured the wild victory. The 71 combined points is the most ever in the lengthy Ada-Durant series.
The Cougars had just 77 yards at halftime, but finished with 273.
“At times we looked good. I thought our offensive line especially played really well. We started really moving the ball well on the ground in the second half,” Weber said.
Weber reached into his bag of tricks to help Ada score on its first possession of the game. Prince handed the ball to Kilby on an apparent end-around play, but Kilby — the Cougars’ second-string quarterback — passed back to his left to a wide-open Prince, who made the catch and sprinted 31 yards to paydirt as Ada led 7-0 at 9:24 in the opening period.
But two Cater touchdown passes later — an 11-yarder to speedster Skye Lowe and a 21-yard dart to Brandon Maynard — put Durant on top 14-7.
Prince and Kilby evened the score with another hookup — this time the conventional way via a 21-yard pass from Prince to Kilby, who made a nice catch over a defender in the back of the end zone — that knotted the score at 14-all just 4:14 before halftime.
But Cater struck again, hitting Lowe in stride for a 35-yard TD toss that gave the Lions a 21-14 halftime lead.
Weber said he’s not broken-hearted that his defense won’t have to contend with Cater again.
“He was outstanding. He’s hard to knock off his feet, he’s elusive. He’s really good. I told him after the game that he was a great player, and I’m glad he’s graduating,” he said.
Prince, who finished with 125 yards of total offense, sang the praises of his teammates after the big win.
“Coming in here, this atmosphere was amazing. It was a huge game. We knew we were going to have to come in here and play big,” the Ada QB said. “Hats off the offensive line. They blocked absolutely amazing. We had some turnovers, but we fought back from it and didn’t give up. Our offense executed when we had to, and our defense played good when it had to. Overall, it was a great team win.”
After eight turnovers in the first two weeks, Ada added to that total by fumbling six times against Durant and losing three.
“We laid it on the ground again too much, but all I know is we’ll keep working on it. I’m going to sleep good tonight and enjoy this one,” Weber said. “Like coach (Charlie) Golightly said, just because of the resilience we showed, we might have become a football team tonight.”
Ada is back at Norris Field in Week 4, opening district play against Mannford. The Pirates edged Bristow 20-16 in Week 3.