Pleasant Hill tops Oak Grove
By Stephen Bubalo PrepsKC staff writer
Pleasant Hill head football coach Kyle Roach felt like the time was right, that his offense might not get another shot, so he took a chance Friday night against Oak Grove.
Trailing the Class 3, fourth-ranked Panthers 22-19 with less than seven minutes to play and facing a fourth-and-four from his own 35-yard line, Roach decided to go for it instead of punting the ball away and hoping for a stop on defense.
“They’d been moving the ball,” Roach said of the Oak Grove offense. “I figured we’d better go now or we may not get another chance or we might get down more. I had faith in (quarterback) Josh (Shewmaker) and our offense.”
And the offense didn’t let him down.
Shewmaker connected with Kolin Rogers for 18 yards and three plays later he found Tyler Sanford in the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown pass to cap a 26-22 win for the Roosters.
“We’ve done that countless times since we were little,” Shewmaker said of connecting with Sanford. “We trust each other. He makes big plays. He’s a playmaker.”
Added Roach of the two seniors, “They have some magic together. They’re both playmakers. They like being in that moment.”
Not to be outdone, the Roosters sealed the win with their defense, as Johnnie Berry sacked Oak Grove quarterback Austin Blackston in Rooster territory, forcing a fumble on the play and Pleasant Hill recovered.
“Oh, I’m going for the ball,” Berry said. “I’m always going for the ball.”
“Both teams battled,” Oak Grove head coach Pat Richard said. “It was so physical. It was awesome to watch. They made one more play than we did. … Physically they (Pleasant Hill) rebounded in the second half. By the end of the first half we were rolling. They stalemated us in the second half.”
The Rooster defense seemed to get better as the game went along. They started to slow the Panther running game down just enough before finally getting that big play at the end.
“We bent some but we made some really big plays when we needed to,” Roach said of the defense. “They just had to hang in there.”
Each team scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half, but a missed extra point and failed two-point conversion by the Roosters saw them trail 14-12.
The start of the second half saw one of the game’s biggest plays. With the Roosters facing a third-and-31 from their own 5-yard line, Shewmaker took off running and scrambled for 29 yards, but a late-hit tacked on another 15 and continued the drive.
Six plays later, Shewmaker was in the end zone after a 13-yard run for a 19-14 lead.
“I was just trying to get a first down,” Shewmaker said of the run on third down. “We ended up scoring on that drive. That was a big play.”
Added Richard, “On second down we dropped a pick and then the third down play. Those are two big plays. Josh is such a gamer. That was huge. We had them pinned back.”
Oak Grove wouldn’t go quietly, though. The yards were harder to come by in the second half, but they were able to put together a scoring drive in the fourth quarter, as Blackston connected with Aaron Graham from 22 yards out for a 22-19 lead.
The Panthers converted two big third downs on the scoring drive, but it would be a fourth down conversion just four plays later that would be the biggest conversion of the night.
“He always has confidence in our offense,” Shewmaker said of Roach when talking about the fourth-down call. “It was risky. But we did it. We trust the plays he calls and he trusts us to execute. All 11 people have to do their job for us to be successful.”
The Roosters had quietly been staying undefeated with four blowout wins in a row, but this might be the kind of win that turns some heads, as they moved to 6-0 in their first season in Class 4.
“Everybody has been underestimating us,” Berry said. “I think they’ll stop doing that now.”
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