By Tony Burns
“We dodged one tonight,” was one of the comments made by El Dorado coach Scott Reed as he walked off the field Friday night following the Wildcats’ 31-17 Homecoming win over Sheridan. The Wildcats improved to 3-3, 2-1 while the Yellowjackets slipped to 1-5, 0-3.
It felt like Halloween for the Wildcats, who went from trick-to-treat on every other play. El Dorado had two punts blocked with another netting five yards due to intense pressure. The Wildcats muffed a kickoff, had a fumble returned for a touchdown and was flagged with four holding penalties, two facemasks and a pair of personal fouls.
“We’re going to have to play better. I know that and they know that. They’re not proud of how they played. But, it’s a win and we’re going to learn,” said Reed. “Sheridan outplayed us, especially in the first half. Their kids played hard. We challenged ours at halftime to just go fight and play. We showed no life in the first half. In the second half, we did make plays. We made plays down the field. It still wasn’t always pretty but sometimes you have to win games like that. It’s better to win ‘em than not win ‘em. Hopefully we’ll grow from it.”
El Dorado’s offense was bailed out by a solid ground game. Alex Hicks rushed for 148 yards on 18 attempts with Keonte Larry adding 131 yards on 15 carries.
Larry’s 64-yard touchdown run with 2:16 left in the second quarter tied the game at 10-10 at the half.
The Wildcats grabbed the lead with a 68-yard drive to open the third. Larry had runs of 12 and 15 before Hicks faked a handoff on a jet sweep, scooted through a hole in the middle of the line, juked a defender at the 10 and scored on a 19-yard TD run. Greysen Hubbard added the PAT for a 17-10 lead with 10:07 left in the third.
Sheridan answered with an 80-yard drive of its own. El Dorado had a face mask penalty, a pass interference on third-and-4 and a personal foul penalty before Montana Korte scored on a 13-yard run. Javier Gonzalez hit the PAT, tying the game at 17-17 with 6:29 left in the third.
It went from bad to worse for El Dorado, which flubbed the ensuing pooch kickoff, giving the Yellowjackets the ball back at the EHS 42. The Wildcats’ defense made the defensive stop of the night, however, forcing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-2.
A pair of holding penalties stalled El Dorado’s next possession, including one that negated a 55-yard TD run.
El Dorado finally regained the lead when Hicks connected with Derek Jobe on a 52-yard touchdown pass. Hubbard’s kick pushed the lead to 24-17 with seven seconds left in the third.
El Dorado’s defense held firm again with Quentin Frazier recording a sack to force a punt. But, the Wildcats’ ensuing drive ended with a holding penalty on fourth-and-1. El Dorado’s punt was then blocked, giving the Yellowjackets’ possession at the 46. But, Sheridan ended up turning the ball over on downs at the 26.
The Wildcats increased their lead when Hicks got loose on an 18-yard touchdown run with 4:29 left in the game.
The Yellowjackets’ next possession was squashed on a sack by Martavious Green.
Hicks completed 7-of-16 passes for 108 yards.
“I think it was sloppy all night. But, it’s a win and that’s all that really matters,” said Reed. “We had a bunch of guys who played hurt tonight that we need to get well. I’m really proud of all our guys who hung in there and fought.
“You can tell we’re out of sync. We haven’t had a punt blocked since I’ve been here. We had two tonight. Both times, it was one guy and we had three to block him. We have some things to fix but it’s a great win. Any win is a great win.”
Sheridan opened the scoring when Korte recovered a fumble and returned it 30 yards for the touchdown with 2:30 left in the first quarter. El Dorado’s ensuing 12-play drive ended in Hubbard’s 22-yard field goal, which cut the lead to 7-3 with 9:02 left in the second.
A 5-yard punt under heavy pressure up the middle gave Sheridan the ball on the 25. El Dorado’s defense held at the 9 and Gonzalez booted a 26-yard field goal with 3:11 left in the second.
Two plays later, Larry found a crease and then showed his speed, sprinting through the Sheridan secondary for a 64-yard scoring run.
After the game, Reed noted some of his players had been sick plus injuries limited senior receiver Shun Levingston and negated left tackle Dalton Perdue, who didn’t play.
“We had a lot of guys do some tremendous things tonight. It didn’t look like it. It wasn’t always pretty. But, I’m proud. There were a lot of guys who got out there and played their hearts out that didn’t feel real good,” he said.
“Mentally, we weren’t real good. We’ve got to clean that up. We’ve got work to do. I know that. But, I’ve got good kids and they want to and we’re going to get it fixed.”