By SHAWN YORKS
• Daily Leader
WOODWARD, Okla. — The Forgan Bulldogs were determined their second meeting with Deer Creek-Lamont would not be a repeat of the first. Back on Oct. 15, DCLA routed the Bulldogs 42-8 in Forgan.
Friday night at Boomer Stadium in Woodward, the score wasn’t quite as bad, but the outcome was the same for Forgan, as DCLA advanced to the state championship for the first time in school history with a 20-0 win.
DCLA will take on Shattuck for the Class C state championship next Saturday, probably at Stillwater High School’s Pioneer Stadium.
And while the score might not have been so bad — it was just 8-0 at halftime — the performance was dominating on the field for the Eagles. DCLA (13-0) out-gained the Bulldogs 371-61 in total yardage, and dominated time of possession and number of plays. DCLA ran 74 plays to Forgan’s 32, keeping the ball for 33 minutes to Forgan’s 15.
Forgan (11-2) had one first down all night.
“It didn’t turn out exactly like we wanted,” said Forgan head coach Doug Bowles.
The Bulldogs went to the air a little more than usual. Rhett Radcliff was 1-for-8 but had zero passing yards.
“I thought we’d have to (go to the air),” Bowles said. “Because they’re really hard to run against. I was thinking we’d have to throw the football a lot more, but we weren’t very successful at that, either.”
On a night when the temperature hovered around 30 degrees, Forgan just couldn’t get anything going offensively. And even though the score doesn’t reflect it, the Forgan defense played a decent game, stopping several potential scoring drives that could have made things much worse.
DCLA took the opening drive of the game and went from its own 30 yard line to deep in Forgan territory, mostly behind junior running back Connor Kirby. But the Forgan defense stepped up when Ryan Radcliff recovered a fumble by Jace Whitehead at the Bulldogs 11 yard line.
On DCLA’s next possession, the Eagles had driven from the 50 and faced a fourth and goal at the 3 yard line. Kirby took the handoff and was stopped short at the 1 yard line as the Forgan defense once again stepped up.
Not a bad defensive performance, considering.
“Yeah it was, considering that they had the ball the whole night,” Bowles said. “We just needed to do something offensively and we just couldn’t get anything going.”
Forgan’s only serious threat of the game was thwarted by penalties on its third possession of the game. From their own 1, the Bulldogs got a short run by Rhett Radcliff and a penalty on DCLA to the 19. On the next play, Radcliff got free and raced deep into DCLA territory.
But a penalty on the Bulldogs put it back on the 14 yard line.
Another DCLA penalty put the ball on the 29, but three more Forgan penalties once again backed the Bulldogs up to the 16, where they were forced to punt.
“We had a lot of penalties,” Bowles said. “We had two personal fouls, and that’s not good. That gives them 30 yards. We didn’t help ourselves.”
The defense held for the third straight time, sacking quarterback Lawson Thompson and forcing DCLA to punt. Forgan was in three and out, and the Eagles finally punched it in.
From the Eagle 42, two runs by Kirby and a quick jaunt by Jace Whitehead set up a 35-yard scoring run by Patrick Swaggart at the 5:09 mark of the second quarter. Kirby’s extra point run gave DCLA an 8-0 lead, which turned out to be all it would need.
Thompson intercepted a Radcliff pass on Forgan’s first play after the touchdown, and the Eagles were once again knocking on the door late, going from their own 41 to the Forgan 19 on nine straight runs and an 8-yard pass to Hunter Whitehead.
But Thompson went to the air one too many times, launching one toward the end zone and into the waiting arms of ... Rhett Radcliff, who intercepted the pass while falling backwards into the end zone, ending the drive with 18 seconds left in the first half.
DCLA punched it into the end zone on its first possession of the second half when Thompson threw a little screen to Whitehead, who side-stepped a Forgan defender and ran 34 yards to paydirt. The score completed a 69-yard drive that took eoght plays and nearly six minutes off the clock.
Highlights for Forgan included a fumble recovery by Tayler Eagan and two other defensive stands that included forcing DCLA to punt, and a sack of Thompson that lost 10 yards and gave the ball to Forgan on downs.
DCLA’s final touchdown came with 2:49 left in the game when Swaggart took a handoff off left tackle and went 16 yards into the end zone. The 55-yard drive took 10 plays, and the touchdown came on 4th-and-6.
“We knew it would be a struggle this time,” Bowles said. “We had some things we could do, but we just couldn’t get anything going. We had to keep the ball away from them. That’s how you’re going to beat them is keep the ball away from them.”
Forgan’s season ends at 11-2, with both losses to Deer Creek-Lamont.
“It’s disappointing, but they played hard and sometimes you have disappointments in life and that’s what this is,” Bowles said. “You just have to go on. Hopefully you played as hard as you could and left it all out there on the field so you don’t have any regrets.”
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