Wildcats bite the Panthers

Steve Bubalo/PrepsKC

By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: October 3, 2015 - 12:19 AM

For highlights of this game click here.

There wasn’t much Harrisonville’s Morgan Selemaea didn’t do during Friday night’s game at Oak Grove, and he’s a big reason why the Wildcats walked away with an impressive 35-10 victory.

The junior caught a touchdown pass, scored on two long runs and returned an interception for a score to help keep the Wildcats perfect at 7-0.

“He’s a special player,” head coach Brent Maxwell said.

And one that recognizes it’s always a team effort.

“I couldn’t do anything without them,” Selemaea said of his offensive line, who helped pave the way for his 56 and 66-yard touchdowns. “I always thank them after every touchdown."

Selemaea’s scoring began after Oak Grove took a 3-0 lead on its first drive, as Harrisonville responded with some trickery, when Brandon Eickhorst threw it up to Selemaea after a double reverse for a touchdown pass and a 7-3 lead.

"They actually blew that play up in the backfield but it was a great throw and Morgan just went up and got it,” Maxwell said.

Oak Grove would have a response of its own a couple of drives later, going 80 yards for a score and a 10-7 lead, as Kenton Wilhoit scored from 19 yards out.

But that lead would be short-lived.

Harrisonville came back with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive in less than three minutes. Wyatt Schenker scored from 29 yards out on a run that started up the middle before he broke to the outside and outran the Panther defense.

"Oak Grove gave us some fits early,” Maxwell said of the Panther defense. "But once we got that cleaned up the plays started coming much easier.”

That statement proved true immediately in the second half, as Selemaea took the second play of the half for a 66-yard score and a 21-10 lead. Maxwell admitted that run seemed to set the tone for the second half.

"We ran that first play for 10 or 12 yards and then another one that we broke for the long touchdown, which gives the guys a sense of confidence,” he said.

The Panther defense has been a strong unit all season long and held tough for a half, but head coach Pat Richard had to tip his cap to the Harrisonville offense.

"I thought it was more execution on their part,” Richard said. "The front line blocked well and they were getting to the backer. They did what we usually do to people. Those 3-yard gains started to become 40 yards.”

Meanwhile, the Oak Grove offense was having trouble finishing drives in the second half. After Selemaea’s touchdown, the Panthers put together a six-minute drive that was derailed by penalties and ended with a punt.

After the Oak Grove defense forced a punt on the Wildcat’s ensuing possession, the offense once gain traveled into enemy territory, only to stall on third down and miss a field goal.

Selemaea made them play two plays later with a 56-yard score and a 28-10 lead.

"The last three weeks when we’ve gotten in the red zone we’re not getting anything,” Richard said. "We’ve got to finish. It’s not like us.”

Harrisonville definitely had a hand in that, as they made Oak Grove work for every yard thanks to their speed on defense.

"We were able to make some adjustments on defense,” Maxwell said. "Once we did that we were able to control some things. … They try to control the line of scrimmage. They’re very physical. But we love our defense and especially our defensive speed.”

After the two teams traded fumbles, Selemaea would put the finishing touches on the win his interception return for a touchdown, his fourth of the game. It came on a play he saw coming all the way.

“Two or three plays before that they did the same play,” Selemaea said. "If they would have thrown it on that play I had it. But they ran the same play again and I saw it coming. I just grabbed it and went in.”

Added Maxwell, "It was nice for our defense to come out and make a stand and get a score. That play was a team effort. We had guys in the backfield and Morgan made a heck of a play."

Oak Grove fell to 5-2 with the loss and will travel to Grain Valley next Friday.

Harrisonville will now prepare for a showdown with Odessa in a battle of 7-0 teams with the Missouri River Valley Conference West title on the line. There was no looking ahead Friday night.

"Coach always says on Monday that the upcoming game is the most important game because it’s the next game,” Selemaea said. "We can’t worry about anybody ahead of that. We can’t let up.”