Rather than use the customary Friday the 13th cliché, it can simply be said this one will stick in Ardmore's craw for a while.
A standout defensive effort was squandered as the Tiger offense stumbled throughout the evening in a 9-7 loss to Durant. A safety with 5:10 remaining in the game gave the Lions a 9-7 lead. The visitors then proceeded to dodge bullets twice in the closing minutes of the game to drop the Tigers to 1-1 on the season.
"The defense was great," Ardmore coach Douglas Wendel said. "They did everything to put us in position to win the game, including getting a turnover. It was as good a performance as we have had since I have been here. We just couldn't get it done offensively and you have to give Durant credit. They whipped us physically up front."
Wendel also highlighted penalties as being critical for Ardmore in the loss. Following the game, Wendel thought there might have been 20. And while the Tigers committed 11, it felt like more, as each one seemed costly.
A penalty on the second drive of the game cancelled out a long run and another to start the second half negated a touchdown run by backup quarterback Jarred Hall. Hall split time with Clay Atwood, who Wendel said was bothered by an ankle injury suffered in the Ada game.
"He got banged up and Hall has more speed," Wendel said. "We needed a spark and both of them are good quarterbacks."
Neither Durant nor Ardmore did much in the second half until late. The Lions took over possession at their own 38 and keyed by a 19-yard pass from Zac Cater to Brandon Maynard, drove into Tiger territory. With 56 seconds remaining in the half, Carter found Maynard once more from 6 yards out in the corner of the end zone for the first score of the game. The extra point made the score 7-0 which stood until the final quarter.
Ardmore had some success getting the ball to the edge early in the first quarter but slowed down as Durant began getting into the backfield. With the running game bottled up, the Tigers compounded issues with mental errors and an off-target passing game.
"I don't know how many penalties we had, but we would get a lot of them on first down," Wendell said. "We would make some yardage and it would get called back."
The defense did its part, shutting down the Durant passing game and making keeping Durant receivers in front of them, finishing off plays with big hits. With time ticking away, it appeared the Ardmore offense was stuck in neutral. Taking over at its own 40 with 9:43 left, the Tigers once again found themselves in a hole with an incomplete pass and a loss of five yards on a running play.
On third-and-15, Jamarcus Mills provided a spark with a big 14-yard run. Kydric Knox then found some running room inside on fourth-and-1 and broke it, outrunning the Lions' defense 51 yards for the score.
The defense held but a quick kick put the Tigers all the way back to their own 8-yard line. After a fumble and recovery, Ardmore was on its own 2 when a toss sweep to O.J. Walker went south as he was caught in the end zone for the safety.
With just over 5 minutes left, the defense rose to the challenge. Durant running back Kooper Cavender coughed the ball up and Trey Baptiste fell on the fumble, giving Ardmore the ball at the 38. The Tiger offense failed to take advantage as two straight penalties dropped the home team back to the 48. It was too much for the inconsistent offense to overcome and the ball was turned over on downs.
The defense held giving Ardmore one more chance and a big play brought the home stands to their feet. Atwood hit Lacarrio Lopez on a shallow pass over the middle and Lopez galloped deep into Durant territory. Ardmore gained two yards on the next three plays and called on kicker Ben Gonzalez for a 39-yard field goal attempt.
Gonzalez's kick had plenty of leg but was just wide left. Durant ran the clock out to secure the win.
"The resilient team is the team over there," Wendel said of Durant. "You have to take your hats off to them. Coach Byron Cordell and their team did a great job."
Knox led Ardmore in rushing with 71 yards on nine attempts, and Walker had 45 yards on four carries. Atwood accounted for the passing game, completing 4-of-12 for 63 yards, 47 of which went to Lopez. Cater led Durant, going 14-of-23 for 110 yards and one touchdown. Cavender finished with 52 yards.
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