LONE GROVE — Over the last few weeks, Lone Grove has assumed the role as the comeback kids.
The Longhorns’ season could have very well been over last week.
Meeker was moving the ball up and down the field on Lone Grove’s defense, penalties were adding up and the Longhorns had turned the ball over three times through the first two and a half quarters. All of those mistakes compounded into a 20-point lead for the Bulldogs.
Those mistakes weren’t too much for Lone Grove (9-3) to overcome.
Senior Jeremy Lewis scored all six Longhorns touchdowns and rushed for 260 yards to rally Lone Grove for a 42-35 victory. And because of their desire to not give in, the Longhorns are sniffing the third round of the playoffs for the first time in school history.
It was the second time in a span of three weeks the Longhorns have pulled off a furious second-half rally.
Three weeks ago, Sulphur scored 56 first-half points. However, Lone Grove outscored Sulphur 23-0 during the second half. Although the Longhorns lost the game 56-50, they won a three-way tie breaker based on point differential, earning the district title for the second time in as many seasons.
“One of the things that we do is don’t give up,” Lewis said.
The reward for Lone Grove is a date with undefeated Locust Grove (12-0) and heralded senior quarterback Mason Fine (5-11, 170 pounds) who set the state’s all-time single-season passing record with 5,006 yards and 71 touchdowns in 2014.
Turner compared Fine to Chase Daniel who starred at the University of Missouri and now is playing for the Kansas City Chiefs where he serves as the back-up to starter Alex Smith.
“(Fine) is the first kid that I can remember just going, ‘Wow, that kid is covered and he still made that throw.’ Or, ‘Wow, that’s impressive with the windows that he’s throwing the ball into,’” he said. “I’ve also watched film on Matthew Stafford. He was in the same classification as us. We never played him. But, Mason is just as good as Matthew Stafford and Chase Daniel.”
Lone Grove senior linebacker Chaz McGuire understands the caliber of player that Fine is.
“They’re going to score points,” he said. “Whoever gets more turnovers is to going to win the game.”
Creating turnovers is something the Longhorns will look to continue to generate.
Lone Grove forced Meeker into four turnovers last week. In fact, the Longhorns got it done in all three phases. The defense pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter. On special teams, Jeremy Garrison and Marshall Zabonik each partially blocked a punt.
“The kids do a great job with halftime adjustments,” Turner said.
Stopping Locust Grove’s offense is a task that opponents haven’t been able to solve.
The Pirates have scored at least 42 points in every game.
That is a statistic that Turner respects.
But, he does like how his defense matches up against Locust Grove’s offense.
“I think we are probably the toughest defense that they have seen because we have the athletes that can run with their kids in the secondary,” Turner said.
Practices this week have been some of the most intense that McGuire can ever remember during his four years playing at Lone Grove.
“It’s been tremendous,” he said. “We practice hard all the time but never as hard as this.”
Given that Locust Grove has given up at least 20 points in each of the last three weeks — including last week’s 76-49 defeat of Berryhill — Turner believes that Lewis is capable of having another 200-yard plus performance, this time against the Pirates’ defense.
“I’ve watched film and a Jay running back got a lot of yards on them,” he said.
Offensively, Lone Grove will look to get its passing game back on track today after completing seven passes for 34 yards with two interceptions last week.
The Longhorns also seek a reduction in penalties after being flagged 12 times for 114 yards against Meeker.
“At this time and point in the game, there’s only eight teams in Class 3A playing in the state of Oklahoma, and everybody is good,” Turner said. “There’s only two teams remaining in the playoffs that have been beat, and that’s us and Sulphur, maybe one other team.
“At this level, everybody is good. It’s not a matter of somebody being better than the other team than it is who shows up and plays the best football game at this point and time.”
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.