Wolves' defense, run game controls No. 1 Vian
MIDWEST CITY — The battle between No. 1 and No. 2 was unexpectedly lopsided. Not even the Davis faithful could have predicted such superiority.
Against arguably the best scoring attack in Class 2A, Davis forced seven turnovers and held Vian to less than 200 yards of offense in a 22-0 win in the Class 2A semifinals at Midwest City High School's Rose Field on Friday. The top-ranked Wolverines (13-1) had no response for the Wolves, who picked off six passes and held Vian's score-at-will offense to table scraps.
Entering Friday's game, Vian hadn't scored fewer than 43 points in a game all season. Davis (14-0) countered with a mastery of the Wishbone, eating up clock with time-consuming drives, as well as an aggressive gameplan on the defensive side that had Vian trailing at halftime for the first time this season.
"We controlled the game almost all night," said senior safety Jordan Wilson, who had one of Davis' six interceptions. "When they were driving, we just kept saying in the huddle 'attack, attack, attack.'"
Davis will face Oklahoma Christian School in the 2A championship either Friday or Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. Like Davis, OCS dismantled another powerful offense, beating Frederick 55-32 in the other semifinal.
But you'd be hard-pressed to find a performance as definitive as Davis'. From the onset, it appeared that the No. 2 Wolves were more than ready to claim their place in the state championship, and that Vian was up against something much different than its previous 13 ball games.
"We had a really good week of practice, a great gameplan," senior linebacker Dedrien Nowden said. "They (the coaches) told us just to attack, and that they'd (Vian) never been hit before."
Alec Hetherington had a 2-yard touchdown run and a 30-yard TD pass to Michael Nowden in the first half, and Blake Summers scored on a 28-yard run in the third quarter for Davis' points. On defense, Dedrien Nowden and Hetherington each had two inteceptions off of Vian quarterback Landon Decker, who had to exit the game in the fourth quarter due to injury.
Nowden's first interception came on Vian's second play from scrimmage. On their first play, the Wolverines fumbled.
It was a precursor to a long night for Vian, which entered the game as the nation's highest scoring prep football team. They exited with just 162 yards of offense — due to a combination of numerous turnovers and clock-killing drives by the Wolves.
Vian either gave the ball away or couldn't get it back from Davis. Decker was hounded into a 2-of-9 passing for 13 yards and four interceptions. His backup, Rylee Simon, went 6-of-12 for 48 yards and two picks.
Summers and Wilson each added a second-half interception and Chase Taliferro recovered his own forced fumble for Davis. Vian had nearly as many turnovers (7) as first downs (9).
"They hit us in the mouth and we never responded," Vian coach Brandon Tyler said. "Davis did a good job; credit them. They did what they had to do on defense, they got after our tail and that's the long and short of that.
"We knew it was going to be a tough ball game."
Nowden's first interception at the Davis 32 was followed by a 12-play drive that covered 4 minutes and 46 seconds. On that drive, Hetherington converted a fourth-and-9 pass to Wilson at the Vian 31, and Braden Ruth gained eight yards on a fourth-and-2 at the Vian 10. That set up Hetherington's short TD run at 4:45.
From the onset, it was clear that Davis wasn't going to dig itself into a hole like its previous two playoff games against Millwood and Adair. Following the game, senior lineman Ryder McCaskill echoed his teammates and their mission leading into the semifinal.
"The gameplan coming into this week was 'attack,'" McCaskill said. "That's what our front did and I'm really proud of them. I feel like we were really able to push their front."
Vian's front included 6-foot-4, 305-pound Tulsa commit Rob Boyd. Behind Boyd, Vian periodically got yardage, but hurt themselves at critical moments.
Before halftime, Vian moved into Davis territory, only to lose a fumble. After holding Davis to four-and-out, Hetherington picked off Decker on the Wolverines' first play from scrimmage, then threw his 30-yard TD pass to Nowden on the next play with 54 seconds left in the second quarter.
"It should have been 6-0 at the half," Tucker said. "If we'd have sat on it with a minute to go ... I thought our big receiver had a chance to go over the middle and catch the ball. A lot of things didn't go our way."
Vian's best drive of the game came right after halftime. Decker drove the Wolverines 45 yards to the Davis 13, only for Nowden to pick off his second pass of the game at 8:06. Davis then put together its finest drive of the game, a 93-yard, 7-minute, 58-second masterpiece that closed out the third quarter.
Vian extended the drive for Davis on third-and-7 at the Wolves' 40. Summers appeared headed for a loss of five, but was horse collar tackled. Davis was awarded a first down, and the sophomore found the end zone from 28-yards out on a pitch from Hetherington with 8 seconds left in the quarter.
With the win, Davis will play in its second state championship game in two seasons. Follwing Friday's game, Davis coach Jody Weber was candid about the play of his team.
It's a performance he wants duplicated against OCS this weekend.
"I say this with all humility: if we play with that kind of intensity, that kind of focus, and follow the gameplan, we're gonna be pretty hard to beat," Weber said.
"That remains to be seen, but that's our best in a while."
Erik K. Horne