Oak Grove ends Hogan Prep's perfect season
By Toriano Porter PrepsKC Staff Writer
Yes, Oak Grove and Hogan Prep played their Class 3 District 7 semifinal in a steady downpour of rain.
Yes, the weather made for less than ideal conditions for passing the ball, which mattered little to either team full of tough, talented running backs.
But, in early fall, postseason football, competing with Mother Nature is expected.
There weren't many weather-related excuses coming from either side after Oak Grove's 29-8 win over Hogan Friday at Interscholastic League Stadium in Kansas City.
After all, football is played in all types of weather - rain, sleet or snow - except lightning.
“This time of year, when it starts to get a little cold and nasty out, that’s when we peak,” a jubilant Landon Cairer said. The Panthers’ senior running back scored two of Oak Grove’s four touchdowns. “We’re built for this.”
On the Hogan side, offensive standout DaRon Davis and defensive star Daron Rozell were slowed by cramps, but head coach Phil Lascuola passed on that as an excuse as well.
“They have a good ballclub over there,” Lascuola said.
The 10-2 Panthers, the district’s No. 3 seed, used a ground-it-out attack and timely pass completions to hold off a previously unbeaten Rams squad that entered the contest 10-0 and seeded second in the district.
Instead it's Oak Grove's season that continues next week against top-seeded Odessa (10-1) for the district championship.
Odessa beat the Panthers 21-14 in Week 5.
“We get to play them when it counts,” Oak Grove head coach Pat Richard said of the rematch.
The conditions played right into the hands of the Panthers.
“It’s playoff time and you’re going to get this weather,” Richard said. “That’s kind of what we built the offense around with the running game. It worked out tonight.”
Oak Grove attempted only two passes in the second half, missing one, but connecting on the other
Kenton Wilhoit’s 30-yard reception set up first and goal from the 6-yard line with 7 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the game.
Nursing a 15-8 lead, Cairer carried the ball next for a score to help Oak Grove close the book on Hogan's season.
“I was really proud of our defense,” Richard said. “To hold an explosive team like Hogan to eight points is pretty good. The defense played exceptionally well.”
Oak Grove cracked the scoreboard first when quarterback Chance Alexander completed a play action pass to Wilhoit for a 45-yard touchdown four minutes into the game.
The extra point gave the Panthers a 7-0 advantage.
“We pound the ball, we pound the ball and it gets them all in the box, then we pop up and throw one over their heads,” Cairer said “That’s what our offense is all about.”
On a fourth and 10 from the 16 late in the second quarter, Hogan pulled off a reverse handoff from Davis to split end Damonte High, who scored thanks to a key block from an unlikely source: Jai’len Jones, the Rams rail thin signal caller.
A successful, and hard earned two-point conversion run from Davis put Hogan in front 8-7 with 4 minutes left in the second.
The Panthers’ drive on their second score in the third quarter was a thing of beauty for football purist.
The 70-yard drive featured zero pass attempts and nearly 10 yards a pop on the ground.
Cairer's 5-yard touchdown run to finish it made the score 13-8 with 4:32 left in the third and a successful two-point conversion run pushed the score to 15-8.
Cairer’s fourth quarter scoring run and Garrison Walton's 30-yard interception return for a touchdown and a successful extra point kick closed out the scoring.
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