ELMORE CITY, Oklahoma – Well, there’s nothing like packing a little bit of everything into the first game of the season.
For Oklahoma City Patriots, big plays, early injuries, defensive stands, turnovers and clutch performances were just part of a wild opening week win at Elmore City.
When it was all said and done: Patriots 27, Badgers 16.
OKC is 1-0 and won on the road, which will be a regular occurrence this year. The Pats play all but two games on the road this year.
And the road tested them plenty on Friday night.
“This is what we needed to do,” Oklahoma City coach Chris Toney said. “We are going to play a lot of these games (on the road), and we have to show resiliency. Tonight we were able to do that.”
But at first, it seemed like OKC was going to cruise.
Oklahoma City had run just three plays by 6:20 in the first quarter and led 14-0.
Two of those first three plays were huge touchdown runs by quarterback Quinn Soukup. The first was an 80-yarder on the second play of the game, the second a 68-yard TD on the Pats’ next series.
The Patriots kept it up with another Soukup touchdown early in the second quarter to put OKC up 21-8.
On the first play of their next series, Soukup went down with a shoulder injury and had to sit for the rest of the game.
“After Quinn went down, we had to lean on our defense, and Jack really stepped up,” Toney said.
Jack was sophomore QB Jack Biggs, who had to steady the offense and maintain the Patriots lead. He came up with a pivotal late TD pass while the defense made play after play to shut out Elmore City in the second half.
Elmore City took its best shot quickly after the quarterback swap. Just a minute after Soukup went out, the Badgers returned a punt 50 yards for a TD. That cut OKC’s lead to 21-16.
The Patriots defense took shot after shot from Elmore City but finished with a second-half shutout.
OKC forced Elmore City to punt twice to start the second half, but the Badgers responded with a 46-yard double reverse pass with 2:23 to go in the third. The Badgers got inside the 10 when Christian Barnett came up with a big sack, then pressure on the QB by Benjamin Hopper forced an incomplete pass.
The Badgers had fourth-and-goal at the 21 and went for it, but their quarterback was stuffed short of the end zone by Ethan Susud with 10:53 to go in the game.
Deep in their end zone, the Patriots tried to muster some offense. Fortunately, a great punt by RJ Brooks hit an Elmore City player to give the Patriots good field position. OKC couldn’t convert, because of penalties and an Elmore City interception, its second of the game.
OKC’s defense came up with a big interception of its own. Jayce Eidson picked off the Badgers with 7:58 to go in the game.
A couple of punts kept the game on edge as Oklahoma City got the ball back with 3:51 to go.
But could the Patriots muster any offense after struggling to get first down in the second half?
The answer was a big yes!
Biggs hit tight end Blake Smith with a short pass at the 18-yard line. Smith tore up the sideline 82 yards for a touchdown. The score bought a raucous Patriot crowd to its feet and let the team breathe a sigh of relief.
But not so fast; the Patriots hit the road again next week, visiting Blackwell on Friday. OKC beat the Maroons in Week 2 last season.