McALESTER — To reach the semifinals for the first time since 1991, the Hartshorne Miners needed to go into Edmond and knock off the defending 2A state champion Oklahoma Christian Saints.
It took an overtime possession, but the Miners punched their way to the Final Four.
Dylan Pingleton completed a 10-yard pass to Trey Medicine Bear in overtime, then the Miners recovered a fumbled snap by the Saints to win Friday’s quarterfinal, 32-25 in overtime, and advance to the 2A semifinals.
“It was the weirdest ending I’d ever seen,” Miners coach Bill Williams said. “The fans stormed the field. It was kind of like a big mosh pit”
Pingleton’s completion came on Hartshorne’s first play in overtime. Normally not the Miners’ offensive play-caller, Williams said he wasn’t sure which route Medicine Bear took, but he’d gotten open on a similar play during regulation.
“He was wide open,” Williams said of the touchdown reception.
Though now in the lead, the Miners still needed to stop the Saints to win. Luke Frankfurt took the Saints to the 3-yard line on their first play, according to the Edmond Sun, but on the next play fumbled the snap.
Hartshorne’s Avery Lomon fell on the ball to end the game.
The night finished a comeback that began early in the third quarter. Frankfurt’s 35-yard rushing touchdown put the Saints up 35-12, according to MaxPreps.com, but the Miners put together a 64-yard drive that chewed up almost seven minutes of gametime and ended in Dallas Herring’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Herring provided Hartshorne’s first four touchdowns, all via the run. His 3-yard touchdown run made it 12-8 Miners midway through the second.
“It was just tough-nose football,” Williams said.
The Miners’ defense held the Saints scoreless in the fourth quarter, and Herring tied the game 25-25 with a 6-yard rushing touchdown with about six minutes left in the fourth. Evan Welch blocked the extra point that would’ve given the Miners their first lead.
The Saints had one last drive to try to win the game. They reached the Hartshorne 25-yard line and sent in place-kicker Jack Markmiller to try a 32-yard field goal, but Ryan Reddick broke through and blocked it.
Markmiller had already kicked a 17-yard field goal that made it 18-12 Saints going into halftime.
“We just blocked a field goal, and they had kicker that could nail one,” Williams said. “Easy one for him, and we blocked it.
“It was overtime before we knew it. We didn’t have time to say anything.”
Williams said the Miners also got solid defensive play from outside linebackers Cody Ward and Jarrod Holt.
“Cody Ward, he was just dominant on defense,” Williams said. “We forced them to run to him, and they couldn’t.”
The Saints held leads of 8-0, 8-6, 15-12, 18-12 and 25-12 throughout the game. Frankfurt rushed for two Saints touchdowns, while Thomas Qualls rushed for one.
“First (Saints) drive, we had three offsides penalty,” Williams said. He added that as the game went on, his team settled in and the initial nervousness subsided.
Hartshorne will face Millwood in the semifinals. The game will take place Friday at a neutral location the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association will announce on Monday.
“Really good athletes,” Williams said of Millwood. “I mean, just athletes everywhere.
“I don’t know that you counter it. You just keep it in the box, keep it from ever getting started. Keep that train from getting on the tracks”
With the win, Hartshorne improved to 11-2.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.