It all came together for the 13th-ranked Ada High School football team against Harrah in a Thursday night fall break matchup at Norris Field. And that meant bad news for the Panthers.
The Ada offense was clicking and the Ada defense turned in another strong performance and that combination resulted in the Cougars running past Harrah 49-7 before a Pink Out crowd inside Koi Ishto Stadium.
Ada improved to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in District 4A-2 play, while the Panthers left town at 2-4 and 0-3.
Ada led 23-0 at halftime and had already outgained Harrah 254-51 in total yards. And it only got worse from there for Harrah.
Ada got a quick break when Maximus Rhynes recovered a Harrah muff on the opening kickoff. That set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Earltuan Battles — the Panthers would see much more of the Ada tailback throughout the contest — and the Cougars led 6-0 after Philip Jones’ PAT kick failed.
“We played physical. The tone was set during the first four plays of the game — we recovered the kickoff and a had rushing TD in that sequence,” said Ada head coach Chris Berus.
A Zac Carroll interception gave Ada the ball near midfield and set up the Cougars’ next score.
A 19-yard burst by Battles and a 20-yard run on an end around by David Johnson got Ada close but the drive bogged down late, resulting in a 30-yard field goal by Jones that put the home team ahead 9-0 at the 2:18 mark of the opening quarter.
Kohner Gallagher, part of Ada’s 1-2 punch at tailback, scored on a 15-yard run at the 7:22 mark of the second period and a Jones PAT kick pushed the AHS advantage to 16-0.
Harrah pinned Ada at its own 9-yard line late in the second quarter, but Battles quickly unpinned his team. On first down, Battles broke to the near sideline, side-stepped a pair of Harrah defenders and raced 58 yards before the Panthers finally tripped him up at the HHS 33. Gallagher rushed for 13 and Battles added a 12-yard run to get Ada close and Carroll scored from the 1 from a Wildcat formation and another Jones kick gave the Cougars a 23-0 halftime edge.
Ada safety David Johnson picked off an errant pass from Harrah QB Nolan Boone with 37 seconds left. The Cougars moved the ball to the HHS 23, but a 40-yard field goal attempt by Jones was wide right as time expired.
Battles — who finished with a career-best 235 yards on 24 carries — scored on a 26-yard jaunt through the middle of the Harrah defense on Ada’s first possession of the third quarter that extended the AHS lead to 30-0. Battles had bobbled the ball early but made a nice recovery before racing to the end zone.
“Earl going for 200-plus was a testament to an emphasis offensively of being aggressive at all positions,” Berus said.
Gallagher recovered a Harrah fumble on the Panthers’ first offensive play of the second half and that turned into a pretty pass and catch touchdown from Ada quarterback Carter Freeland to wideout Andrew Hughes that covered 32 yards. The kick failed, but Ada still took a commanding 36-0 lead at the 9:55 mark of the third frame.
Harrah then put together a 21-play, 77-yard drive to avoid the shutout. Nick Moore pushed into the end zone from a yard out and Kyle Baker kicked the PAT to get the Panthers within 36-7.
The Cougars capped a long drive of their own (13 plays, 67 yards) with a 5-yard TD run by battles — his third touchdown of the night — that made the score 43-7.
Ada junior defensive back Tre Ivy put a big exclamation point on the victory when he returned an interception 32 yards for a score with 5:01 left.
Harrah tried to put more points on the scoreboard, driving to the Ada 20 before Ivy nabbed a game-ending interception.
“The defense played extremely well (with four interceptions and a fumble recovery) other than the 20-play drive that resulted in a score,” Berus said.
Freeland turned in a solid effort for the Cougars. He completed 7-of-15 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Jarron Christian was his top target, finishing with four grabs for 34 yards.
“We got very good quarterback play. He delivered the ball well and made positive plays with his feet,” Berus said.
Ada is on the road next Friday with a huge district showdown with district leader and third-ranked Tuttle. The Tigers stand at 6-0 overall and are 3-0 in 4A-2 play.