Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2013 Ada High football team is going through a lot of rabbits these days. The Cougars pulled a few more out of their hat Friday night against Harrah.
Quarterback Cory Kilby found tight end Micah Simmer alone in the end zone with a 7-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left in the game to complete a clutch 80-yard drive, which helped No. 4 Ada secure a 29-24 victory over the 10th-ranked Panthers at Norris Field.
The Cougars have now won seven straight games since a season-opening loss to rival Ardmore to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in District 4A-2 play. Harrah left town at 5-3 and 4-1.
“I know one thing. Our kids are mature beyond their years to be that resilient and come back over and over. I’m proud to be associated with a bunch like this,” said Ada head coach Matt Weber during a postgame celebration.
Things looked grim for Ada when Harrah playmaker Dak Stephens kicked a 34-yard field goal with 1:44 left in the game (and then booted the kickoff out of the end zone) to put the Panthers on top 24-23.
“We had a minute and 44 second to go 80 yards,” Weber pointed out.
The Cougars got a big chunk of that yardage when junior receiver Montrell Black made a sensational one-handed grab around the 45 and scurried down to the Harrah 32 on Ada’s second play of the drive.
Black would finish with four catches for 121 yards.
“His number hadn’t been called in the last couple of weeks. He made three or four just huge plays for us tonight. That one-handed catch was big,” Weber said.”There were a lot of big plays tonight.”
On third-and-six from the 28, Ada benefited from a defensive holding play that gave the Cougars a first down at the 18.
Kilby gained 14 yards on a keeper before he was knocked out at the 4 with 29 seconds left. After Stephens hit Ada tailback Austin Feezel for a 3-yard loss, Weber called time out with 25 seconds remaining.
Kilby then rolled to his right, looked back left and connected with Simmer for what turned out to be the game-winning TD.
Harrah wasn’t done. Stephens took a short pass and turned it into a 37-yard catch-and-run to set up Harrah at the Ada 29 with seven seconds left. However, on the final play, Ada 5-9 cornerback Jamal Henderson out-jumped a Panther receiver to make an interception in the end zone as time expired to turn back the last Harrah threat.
“He made a great play. A lot of people think they can pick on No. 7 (Henderson). They don’t realize he can jump up and dunk a basketball,” Weber said.
The first four possessions of the game all resulted in scores.
Harrah took the opening drive of the game 80 yards for a score, with running back Hunter Goodwin scoring from 13 yards out to give the visitors an early 7-0 advantage.
The Cougars marched from their own 32 down to Harrah's 10 before the drive stalled, and Ada settled for a 27-yard field goal by Todd Penick that cut the Harrah lead to 7-3 with 14 seconds left in a fast-moving first quarter.
Harrah responded with a 12-play, clock-eating drive that ended with a 1-yard Stephens touchdown run on fourth down. The Panthers converted on a two-point play when quarterback Zach Hamblin connected with Colin Jennings to boost the Harrah lead to 15-3.
Ada answered with a 65-yard drive that featured an 18-yard pass to Black and a 12-yard pass to Osahwv Frazier. Kilby finished off the drive with a nice 17-yard TD keeper to help the Cougars trim the score to 15-10 at halftime.
The Cougars got to the Harrah 13 on the opening drive of the third quarter before Harrah’s Jordan Fredrickson picked Kilby off in the end zone.
After the Ada defense stiffened, the hosts got the ball back at midfield. Kilby then threw a perfect pass to Black, who had gotten 10 yards behind the Harrah secondary. Black caught the ball in strike and sped to the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown. Penick’s PAT put Ada on top 17-15 at the 5:49 mark of the third period.
The Panthers then used another time-consuming drive (16 plays, 74 yards, over nine minutes) that ended when Stephens scored from eight yards out on fourth down. The PAT was no good, leaving Harrah with a 21-17 lead with 8:28 to play. Harrah overcame a third-and-25 play (caused by a 12-yard QB sack by Kobe Bellard) when Jordan Jaworski hauled in a 21-yard pass, and Stephens just made it to the first-down marker on a fourth-and-five run.
Again the Cougars countered, this time after a 39-yard kickoff return by — you guessed it — Black. Tailback Shiloh Windsor had two big first-down runs on the drive that covered 61 yards. Gabriel Simons got Ada close with a 16-yard catch on third-and-long, and Kilby’s short 2-yard toss to Garrett Beam on fourth down — Harrah was clearly expecting a run on the play — put Ada on top 23-21 after the Panthers blocked the PAT attempt.
Kilby would finish 11-of-16 for 203 yards with the three touchdowns and two interceptions (both by Fredrickson).
Stephens — who finished with 72 yards rushing on 11 carries to lead the Harrah ground game — had a 34-yard scamper that helped set up the field goal that gave the visitors their last lead (24-23) with 1:44 left.
Ada is on the road in Week 9, traveling to McLoud (4-4, 2-3). The Redskins dropped a tough 13-7 decision to No. 3 Douglass on Friday in Oklahoma City.