MUSTANG – Sam Stone pleaded with the referees.
The sophomore defensive back had intercepted the ball, or so he claimed after a tipped ball had fell with arm’s reach of Stone. But as the line judge sprinted up to the field, and emphatically pointed to the ground, signaling it had touched the turf first, it was clear that Mustang would maintain possession of the ball.
Roughly 50 seconds later, the Broncos were in prime position to tie the game.
Twelve minutes earlier, Stone and the Jenks Trojans would have loved a tied ball game. But after mounting a 19-point comeback – and eventually grabbing the lead with a late field goal – they were playing for a win.
But after possession stuck with the Broncos, and an acrobatic reception by Mustang wide receiver Jacobe Johnson, it appeared the game was headed for overtime.
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A 25-yard field goal was all that was needed, and Mustang kicker Aiden Jordan hadn’t missed yet Friday night.
With four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Jordan lined up for the kick. The snap was a little high, but all looked good. Until Jenks defensive lineman Milton White created a hole that sophomores Hudson Ball and Ashton Cunningham shot through.
And instead of Jordan’s kick cutting through the 28-degree air, it banged into Ball’s hands as he dove out for a last-ditch block.
The football trickled toward the Mustang sideline and out of bounds. As the Broncos sideline looked on if disbelief, the Trojans’ erupted in celebration.
Ballgame. Jenks 34, Mustang 31.
“Man, I felt a lot of emotions honestly,” Ball said. “I was feeling excited and mad at the same time.”
After offensive possessions stalling and Mustang dicing up its defense with Johnson for three quarters, Jenks usurped Mustang with a 19-point comeback in the final 12 minutes to stave off elimination and advance to the semifinal round of the Class 6AI playoffs, where they will face Bixby at 1 p.m. next Friday at Broken Arrow.
“We talked about it at halftime, we missed some opportunities, we just had to keep playing,” Jenks coach Keith Riggs said. “When we have our opportunities, whether defensively to get a stop or create a turnover, offensively to finish drives, we’ve got to do it.
“We missed a couple opportunities in the third quarter, but from there on they were spot on.”
Ball’s heroics wouldn’t have even happened if not for the Trojans’ shining on both sides of the ball late in the game.
Quarterback Ike Owens struggled in the first three quarters against a fiery Mustang defense that sacked him multiple times to thwart offensive momentum.
The Trojans instead relied on senior kicker Andrew Pursell to keep them within reach throughout the game. He drilled field goals from 30, 47 and 52 yards out, the most crucial being his 52-yarder at the start of the fourth.
“Of course,” Pursell said of his confidence to make the long field goal. “What kind of question is that? I knew I was going to make it.”
On the following Broncos possession, quarterback Tristen Russell would be intercepted by Stone at Mustang’s 45-yard line, with the sophomore returning it for a touchdown. A costly block in the back penalty would move Jenks back to the spot of the pick, but a methodical drive by Owens would end with a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ty Walls.
“Those were huge,” Owens said of Walls’ receptions. “Beginning of the game, there was a lot of pressure and I couldn’t get the ball out, toward the end of the game, second half, the line was doing great and I was able to find him.”
Walls would finish with three receptions for 48 yards after being held without a catch in the first half. His crucial catch coming on a third-and-15 to extend a drive and set Pursell up for his 52-yard kick.
A run by Owens on the two-point conversion would pull the Trojans within eight points and time quickly dwindling in the game.
After forcing Mustang into a punt – which only sailed 16 yards in the frigid air – Owens again piloted the Trojans down the field, capping off a 60-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown rush.
A double reverse on the two-point conversion ended with receiver Jayden Johnson leaping for a pass from Walls to knot the game at 31 with 3:34 left.
“We didn’t have a good first half, but coming out we just had to execute,” Walls said. “We were telling out players never flinch, stay calm, and believe that we can do it.”
Mustang again possessed the ball, but as Russell – who finished as the Broncos leading rusher with 147 yards and two touchdowns – tucked the ball, a hard hit knocked it loose with Jenks safety Jalyn Stanford pouncing on it.
On the ensuing offensive series, Stanford would rush the ball 24 yards to take it inside Mustang’s 10-yard line, but like the Broncos had done in the first three quarters, the Trojans were stymied at the goal line.
Pursell was sent out for a 21-yarder, which he drilled to give Jenks the lead with 1:32 remaining.
“Coaches asked me if I wanted to move it back, I said, ‘No, we’re fine where we’re at,’” Pursell said. “We kicked it, went through, that’s game.”
And after a fast-paced drive down the field, Ball and Cunningham’s heroics clinched the game for Jenks.
“Obviously those state titles wins, especially that Union one that one is big, but I would say this is second or third,” said Walls of the significance of this victory to him.
JENKS 34, MUSTANG 31
MUS – Jacobe Johnson 23 pass from Tristen Russell (Aiden Jordan kick), 8:50
JEN – FG, Andrew Pursell 30, 5:04
MUS – Aiden Jordan 35 field goal, 11:46
MUS – Jacobe Johnson 90 pass from Russell (Jordan kick), 4:06
JEN – Jordan Schelling 10 run (kick failed), 1:19
MUS – Russell 1 run (Jordan kick), 0:08
JEN – FG, Pursell 47, 5:52
MUS – Russell 17 run (Jordan kick), 4:36
JEN – FG, Pursell 52, 11:54
JEN – Ty Walls 13 pass from Ike Owens (Owens run), 8:06
JEN – Owens 1 run (Jayden Johnson pass from Walls), 3:34
JEN – FG, Pursell 21, 1:36
First Downs – JEN 20, MUS 20; Rushes-Yards – JEN 45-211, MUS 28-199; Comp-Att-Int – JEN 10-14-0, MUS 9-20-1. Passing Yards – JEN 154, MUS 262. Fumbles-Lost JEN 0-0, MUS 1-1. Penalty Yards – JEN 5-50, MUS 5-23. Total Yards – JEN 365, MUS 461. Punts-Avg. – JEN 0-0, MUS 1-16
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