By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Kingfisher seemed in position to take over Friday’s 3A State Championship at Boone Pickens Stadium when quarterback Grant Newton capped a long fourth-quarter drive with 1-yard touchdown to draw even with Blanchard to erase a 14-point deficit.
Instead, Blanchard answered the Yellowjackets’ equalizing score 14 seconds later when Braden Stringer bounced to his left and raced 58 yards for a score, that turned out to be the deciding blow in a 28-21 Lions state championship win and Kingfisher’s third runner-up finish in four years and fourth in six years.
“When you do that, and you spend all that energy to get the ball game tied at 21 … and boom, they pop one off like that, it’s a dagger,” said Kingfisher coach Jeff Myers.
Despite 108 yards in penalties, Kingfisher had one last chance to even the score for a third time, taking possession at its own 17 with 1:55 remaining, but on what would have been a first down run, Newton lunged for a few extra yards and a Blanchard helmet dislodged the ball and the Lions recovered.
“We get to the two-minute drill, something we practice every Thursday, and I put the ball on the ground the last offensive play of my life,” Newton said. “That’s going to be hard to get over.”
Kingfisher’s best chance came one drive earlier, when the two most costly of the Yellowjackets’ 13 penalties turned a first down inside Blanchard’s 30 into a first-and- 30 from the Kingfisher 39.
Junior running back Landon Nault was whistled for illegal motion after the play, and senior receiver Grant Borelli, who caught a 10-yard pass on the play, was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after Nault’s violation was indicated.
Borelli was penalized for allegedly kicking the first penalty flag, but insists he didn’t.
“They just kept backing us up,” he said. “All we could do was fight, and we kept fighting until we couldn’t any more.”
“I really don’t know (what happened),” Myers said. “(Borelli’s) was the number they gave me. But you can’t have that in this big ball game.”
Newton was sacked on the next play, and on second and 37, the senior quarterback was intercepted.
“Once you get in second and forever, it’s hard to dig out of that hole,” Newton said.
Kingfisher got the stop it needed on the ensuing drive, but never saw the ball after Newton’s fumble, being flagged for three more penalties — two of them for unsportsmanlike conduct — as Blanchard ran the remaining 1:38 off the clock.
“We can’t turn the ball over in a game like this, and you can’t have penalties that are uncharacteristic of your team,” Myers said. “What happened at the very end of the ballgame was very uncharacteristic of us, and it’s unacceptable. They know that.”
“You can’t (have that),” Newton said. “We still feel like we were the better team, but we shot ourselves in the foot so many times, we gave them the game. But they came out to play, and we met their intensity but you can’t have mistakes like that in a big game.”
Myers admitted disappointment in the loss, but denied having any in his team.
“There’s not anybody except maybe someone from Union that can say they played three out of their four years in a state championship,” he said. “And they won 14 ballgames. Unfortunately, they didn’t win the 15th.”
Two other state championship games will be played today at Stillwater. Ringling plays Wynnewood for the Class A title at 1:30 p.m. Davis and Oklahoma Christian School play for the 2A title at 7:30 p.m.
Both games can be seen on FOX Sports.