BARTLESVILLE -- In a game full of suspense from beginning to end, the Ponca City Wildcats picked up an important 10-7 victory over the Bartlesville Bruins Thursday night.
With the victory Ponca City earned its second district win of the year and took possession of the traveling Conoco-Phillips trophy awarded each year to the winner of the Ponca-Bartlesville contest.
It didn’t appear early that the Wildcats would be celebrating after the game. Bartlesville took possession of the opening kickoff and on three plays drove 80 yards for a touchdown. With the point-after kick, the Bruins led 7-0 and less than two minutes had ticked off the game clock. But as it turned out, the Wildcat defense was on top of its game the rest of the way and held Bartlesville from getting any more points.
Ponca City scored on a field goal on its first possession of the game and then picked up the game-winning touchdown with 11:18 left in the game.
Close doesn’t count, but the Wildcats missed on several opportunities to score. Had they capitalized on their chances the game ending wouldn’t have been so dramatic.
But as it was, Ponca City fans had to squirm through most of the fourth quarter. After the Wildcats touchdown, Bartlesville took the ball after a great kickoff return by Dylan McCoy on the Ponca City 48 yard line. The Bruins made a first down, but then the Wildcat defense forced a punt. Ponca City took possession at its own 20 with 7:54 left in the game. On a fourth and a half-yard to go, Bartlesville jumped offside giving the Wildcats a first down. Three plays later with a fourth and less than a yard to go, Bartlesville again jumped offside to give Ponca City another first down. Valuable time was ticking off the clock. Ponca City once again went to fourth down, this time with two yards to go and punted the ball. Bartlesville had the ball at its own four yard line and had 1:39 to try to score. The Bruins made a valiant effort, getting down to Ponca City’s 39, but a couple of mistakes doomed their cause. An illegal pass penalty moved the ball back to the 44 with 21 seconds to play and then a fumble let the clock run out. The Bartlesville sideline felt that the fumble should have been ruled an incomplete pass, but it was overruled by game officials.
Ponca City moved the ball well on its first possession, taking the ball on the Ponca City 35 and driving inside the 20 yard line. With a fourth down and four to go, the Ponca City coaching staff called for a field goal and Spencer Ball kicked a 38-yarder to make the score 7-3.
Bartlesville’s next possession ended when Devon KillsCrow covered a Bruin fumble at the Bartlesville 43. Ponca City got the ball to the 25, but on fourth down, Ball again was called upon to try a field goal. The attempt from 43 yards out was not good.
The Bruins’ next possession ended when Antonio Perez intercepted a Paxton Bradford pass. That gave Ponca City possession at the Bruin 34. The first quarter ended with Ponca City on Bartlesville’s six-line. The Wildcats ran three plays but came up a yard short as they turned the ball over on downs.
The Wildcats stopped a Bartlesville drive, forcing a punt, which gave Ponca City the ball on its own six. Again Ponca City put together a good drive, which included some good running by Blake Bristow and 44-yard carry by Cameron Jackson. With the ball inside the Bartlesvile 10 a fumble turned over the ball and stopped another potential Wildcat score.
Bartlesville had the ball at the end of the half and attempted a field goal of its own, but it was no good and the half ended 7-3.
Taking the ball to start the second half, Ponca City again had a pretty good drive, which included a 33-yard pass from Nate Harbeson to Sam McKinney. But a busted pass play gave the Wildcats a 15-yard loss which pretty much stopped their drive. They settled for another long field goal attempt, but Ball’s kick was short.
With 4:15 left in the third quarter, Ponca City started what was eventually going to turn out as a scoring drive. The Wildcats took possession at the 41 yard line. Twelve plays later, Elijah Phillips crashed into the end zone from one-yard away to make the score 9-7. Ball’s kick made it 10-7 with 11:18 left in the game. That score would stand up to the end.
The win was especially sweet, because Bartlesville has dominated the series in recent years. In the past 13 games, Ponca City has won the Conoco-Phillips trophy twice. The Wildcats now have a 3-3 record and more importantly a 2-2 district record. A place in the Class 6AII playoffs remains a possibility. Bartlesville now is 1-3 in district play and would appear to have lost its chance at the postseason.
This week’s game was on Thursday due to Fall Break. Next week the Wildcats are scheduled to play Booker T. Washington Oct. 23 in Sullins Stadium.
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