By Matt Goisman
ADA — The Hartshorne Miners could do little on offense against the fast, physical defensive front of the Millwood Falcons.
Against Millwood quarterback Cameron Batson, Hartshorne’s defense could do even less.
Batson rushed for three touchdowns and threw for a fourth, and the Falcons’ defense posted a second-half shutout en route to a 24-9 win in the Class 2A semifinals Friday at East Central University's Norris Field in Ada.
Hartshorne ended its season 11-3. Millwood advanced to the 2A state championship Friday against Davis.
“It’s not easy watching the kids, when they care that much and you have a good team that goes a long way,” Miners coach Bill Williams said.
“When they decide to run the quarterback, they run the quarterback. We took them out of some stuff they wanted to do, and we had our chances.”
Up just 12-9 late in the second quarter, Batson completed a 37-yard pass to Janari Glover at the Hartshorne 22-yard line. Batson, who'll play for Texas Tech next year — then completed a 22-yard pass to D'Andre Mays in the end zone to give Millwood an 18-9 lead going into halftime.
“He just does what he does,” Millwood coach Darwin Franklin said of Batson. “It doesn’t shock us, the desire that he has. ... Everybody knows, and now we just have to execute.”
The Miners' defense held through the Falcons' first two drives of the third quarter, including a fourth-down stand at the Hartshorne 7. But on the first play of Millwood's last drive of the third, Batson burst out of the backfield, covered 44 yards along the left sideline, cut back towards the center of the field at the Hartshorne 22 and ran it in for a 66-yard touchdown run that made it 24-9 Falcons with 55 seconds left in the quarter.
Batson added touchdown runs of 63 yards in the first and 1 yard in the second. The 1-yard run came two plays after a 32-yard run by Batson to the Hartshorne 14, with a horse-collar penalty then moving the ball to the 7.
“Their (defensive) ends crashed a little bit, and they played real well,” Batson said. “They crashed, they mixed up their schemes, but we took advantage of it. We attacked the defensive ends, attacked the linebackers.”
Hartshorne never breached Millwood's red zone in the second half, the Miners' best drive stalling with an interception at the Falcons 30. The Miners twice breached the red zone in the first half, getting a 34-yard field goal from LaMarcus Morris in the first quarter and a 3-yard touchdown run by Dallas Herring in the second.
Hartshorne’s only touchdown drive began at the Millwood 35, the Miners getting an interception and 23-yard return from Troy Ray. Quarterback Dylan Pingleton then connected with Ray for a 23-yard pass to the 12.
Facing 2-and-11 at the 13, Trey Medicine Bear rushed for 10 on a double-reverse, then Pingleton picked up the first down with a 2-yard rush. The Miners lost 2 yards on a sack, but on second-and-goal Herring ran it in to cut Millwood’s lead to 12-9.
Hartshorne's offense struggled against a physical Millwood defensive front that held the Miners to just 2.9 yards per running play. When Pingleton dropped back to pass, he rarely had enough time to let his receivers get open before a Millwood defender swarmed in, disrupting the pass and six times resulting in a sack.
“They were pretty athletic and physical,” Pingleton said of Millwood’s defensive line and linebackers. He completed 39 percent of his passes for 114 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
Millwood’s defense also improved after halftime, allowing the Miners 104 total yards, just four first downs and no points.
“We saw some things that were leaving us vulnerable (in the first half),” Darwin said.
“We saw some things that were going on, and some of it was self-imposed, and some of it was alignment on their part that we weren’t prepared for. But we went in and discussed it and got with our guys and made sure they understood.”
Friday’s game meant the end of high school football for 12 Hartshorne seniors, among them Herring, Pingleton, Kolton Montgomery, Ryan Reddick, Cody Ward and Noah Irwin. Despite how the season ended, the 2013 Miners still reached the school’s first semifinal since 1991.
“They elevated the players, they elevated the town (and) they elevated the school,” Williams said of the senior class. “They just made people better, and they were fun to be around.”
In the other 2A semifinal, played Friday at Hook Eales Stadium in McAlester, Davis beat Vian, 56-39. The 2A championship will feature two 14-0 teams.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.