In was a slow start for the Waurika Eagles last Friday night in the second round playoff contest with Cherokee, but the Eagles broke loose for a 58-14 win over the Chiefs with the aid of five Cherokee interceptions.
Waurika will hit the road for the quarterfinal round. The Eagles travel to Davenport on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Eagles had a few turnover problems, too, as the first two Eagle drives ended with a fumble and an interception.
But the Waurika defense held its ground and forced Cherokee to punt on its first two offensive thrusts.
After the second punt, the Eagles took the ball at the Waurika 18 and marched 82 yards in just eight plays for the first score of the game.
Turner Mora connected with Aaron Nitka and Hunter Wesberry on two big pass plays to help the Eagles advance down the field.
Zac Brown capped the drive with a six-yard run and Colton Bryant ran for the two points to give the Eagles an 8-0 advantage with 1:40 left in the first period.
Cherokee answered the score after Kade Chace returned the kickoff to the Cherokee 44 yard line. It took the Chiefs five plays to get the game-tying score.
On the first play of the second quarter, Chace found 6-8 wide receiver Blake Hall in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Chace added the two-point conversion with 11:55 left before intermission.
The Eagles were forced to punt on the ensuing series and the Chiefs took over at their own 27-yard line.
The Chiefs drove down the field, but on a second down pass by Chace, Waurika’s Wesberry made a diving interception to thwart the drive and give the Eagles possession at their own two.
Disaster struck on the first play for the Eagles as they fumbled the handoff and Cherokee’s Damein Labato recovered just inside the end zone for the Chief touchdown. The run failed, but the Chiefs were in front, 14-8 with 7:23 left before the half.
This was only the second time this season the Eagles have trailed in a game, but they responded well to the challenge.
After a 12-yard kickoff return by Kevin Garcia, the Eagles were in business at their own 48. Overcoming a penalty, the Eagles drove the distance in seven plays with Mora getting the score on a one-yard plunge. Mora connected with Aaron Nitka for the two-point conversion and Waurika was back in front, 16-14, with 4:19 left in the second quarter.
Things began to turn south from this point as Treavor Green could not handle a pooch kickoff by the Eagles and Austin Dyer was there to recover the ball for the Eagles.
Cherokee forced another Waurika punt, but Payton Ream let the ball go through his hands and Edwin Garcia was downfield for the Eagles to recover the ball.
A Cherokee penalty on the play put Waurika at the Chiefs’ seven-yard line and in just two plays the Eagles’ Mora got the score from five yards out. Matt Arriolla ran for the two-point conversion giving Waurika 24-14 lead with 2:21 left in the half.
Following a Cherokee penalty on its first play, Wesberry picked off his second pass of the game and returned it to the Cherokee 24 giving the Eagles another golden opportunity.
The Eagles covered the distance in just four plays with Mora getting the touchdown on a two-yard run. K. Garcia ran for the two points and with just 40 seconds showing on the clock, Waurika held a commanding 32-14 lead.
The second half belonged to the Eagles. The defense stepped up and thwarted three of the four Cherokee possessions by snaring interceptions. The other possession the Eagles held Cherokee on fourth down.
Meanwhile, the Waurika offense continued to churn out scoring drives to dominate the second half.
On Cherokee’s first possession of the second half, K. Garcia picked off an errant Cherokee pass and returned the ball 33 yards to the Cherokee 27 yard line.
K. Garcia went the distance on first down for the score to increase Waurika’s lead to 38-14 with 9:15 to play in the third quarter.
The next Cherokee drive also ended with an interception by Mora. He returned it 23 yards from the Waurika one, but a Waurika holding penalty set the Eagles back to the Waurika 15.
The Eagles engineered a 10-play, 85-yard scoring drive and the scoring play was a 22-yard pass from Mora to Nitka. After the two-point conversion failed, the Eagles held a 44-14 lead with 3:12 left in the third quarter.
Cherokee was able to pick up a first down on the ensuing possession, but the Eagle defense stuffed a fourth down and short run to take the ball over on downs.
This time it took the Eagles 12 plays to cover 60 yards for another score. Arriolla was heading into the end zone for the score but fumbled and Jordan Watkins fell on the loose ball for the Waurika touchdown. Mora ran for the two-point conversion giving Waurika a 52-14 lead with just 7:52 left in the game.
On the kickoff, Cherokee failed to field the ball and Mora raced down the field to cover the ball giving the Eagles possession at the Cherokee 28. On the first play, Mora raced 28 yards for the score. The two-point conversion that would have ended the game by the mercy rule failed, but with 7:44 remaining in the game the final margin was established.
Cherokee moved the ball to the Waurika 16 on the following possession, but K. Garcia ended that threat with an interception in the end zone and Waurika successfully ran off the final 3:07 of the game to secure the win.
K. Garcia picked up 170 yards on 14 carries for the Eagles, while Arriolla, who came in for an injured Bryant, added 105 yards on 11 carries.
Wesberry and K. Garcia each had two interceptions for the Waurika defense and that helped limit the Chiefs to only 58 offensive plays compared to Waurika’s 72 plays.
After the Chiefs scored their second touchdown in the second quarter it marked only the second time all season Waurika has trailed an opponent….The 58 points scored is the second highest total by Waurika in a playoff game…The 1951 state championship team put up 65 points on Okemah in the state finals that year….The 170 yards rushing by K. Garcia is the top rushing mark for the season by a Waurika player….Mora’s four touchdowns on the ground was a season-high for the Eagle quarterback….It is also the most rushing touchdowns by any Waurika player this season…The 10 penalties whistled against the Eagles is the most this season and the 85 yards in penalties against Waurika is the most yards penalized this season….The 58 points scored by Waurika is tied for the third highest number of points scored in a game in 2018…Arriolla’s 105 yards rushing is also the top mark of the season for the freshman running back…The 374 yards rushing for the Eagles is the most this year and the first time they have topped the 300-yard mark mainly because only two games went the full four quarters during the season.
Game in Figures
First Downs 12 23
Yards Rushing 34-132 54-374
Yards Passing 102 133
Passes 8-12 9-16
Passes Int. By 1 5
Fumbles, Lost 1-1 3-2
Punts 2-33 2-39
Penalties 4-30 10-95
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Cheroke 0 14 0 0–14
Waurika 8 24 12 14–58
WAURIKA – Zac Brown 6 run (Colton Bryant run), 1:40, 1st Quarter
CHEROKEE – Blake Hall 12 pass from Kade Chace (Chace run), 11:55, 2nd Quarter
CHEROKEE – Damien Labato recovered fumble in end zone (run failed), 7:23, 2nd Quarter
WAURIKA – Turner Mora 4 run (Aaron Nitka pass from Mora), 4:19, 2nd Quarter
WAURIKA – Mora 5 run (Matt Arriolla run), 2:21, 2nd Quarter
WAURIKA – Mora 2 run (Kevin Garcia), :40, 2nd Quarter
WAURIKA – Garcia 27 run (run failed), 9:15, 3rd Quarter
WAURIKA – Nitka 22 pass from Mora (run failed), 3:12, 3rd Quarter
WAURIKA – Jordan Watkins recovered fumble in end zone (Mora run), 7:52, 4th Quarter
WAURIKA – Mora 28 run (run failed), 7:44, 4th Quarter
CHEROKEE: Rushing – Chace 18-76, Payton Ream 16-44, Labato 5-12; Passing – Chace 8-17-102-5; Receiving – Ream 3-38, Hall 2-27, Jacob Mustard 2-14, Blaine Hellar 1-23.
WAURIKA – Rushing – K. Garcia 14-170, Arriolla 11-105, Mora 14-54, Brown 9-39, Bryant 5-9, Austin Dyer 1- -3; Passing: Mora 9-16-133-1; Receiving: Nitka 3-62, Arriola 2-22, Hunter Wesberry 1-26, Brown 1-13, Bryant 1-5, K. Garcia 1-5