Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Odessa silences Oak Grove party

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Odessa silences Oak Grove party
Bulldogs bulldoze ninth-ranked Panthers with big second half

By Jason Tarwater Jason.tarwater@examiner.net
The Examiner

When Jacob Brandt's 56-yard touchdown run tied the game just before halftime, Oak Grove thought it had all the momentum it needed.

Archrival Odessa had different plans.

The host Bulldogs controlled the second half, scoring 18 unanswered points without attempting a single pass, winning the Missouri River Valley Conference matchup, 32-14.

"I thought we had the momentum after that big play," said Oak Grove senior defensive back/receiver Adam Hightower, who picked off a pass. "I thought it would carry over."

Instead, Conrad Hooper and the Odessa offense was unstoppable in the second half.

Hooper rushed 37 times for 183 yards - with 100 of those yards coming in the second half.

The Bulldogs (5-2, 5-2 MRVC) had two second-half scoring drives of 12 plays. The last touchdown came after Brien Salley was intercepted and the ball was returned inside the 10.

"We didn't fulfill our obligations," said Panthers defensive Adam Polen, who also caught a 16-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. "We had jobs to do. We needed to adapt, but it didn't work out for us."

Oak Grove (6-1, 6-1 MRVC) never led, as Odessa took the opening drive of the game 56 yards on 13 plays - all on the ground - capped by a 9-yard run by Austin Harvey.

Oak Grove answered in the second quarter, as Salley hit Polen for a 16-yard score. Shawn Boss' extra-point attempt was blocked, but still had enough to get over the crossbar.

Odessa scored late in the second quarter and seemed to take control of the game, thanks to another 13-play drive, this one covering 66 yards and capped by a Harvey 3-yard run.

But less than a minute later, Oak Grove answered, as Brandt took the ball on a draw play and dashed 56 yards to the end zone.

When he got the ball, Brandt said all he saw was green grass.

"The line did their part," Brandt said. "I had nothing to do with it but just running."

But after seemingly made an adjustment to the Odessa single-wing attack - which features a lot of fake handoffs, direct snaps to running backs and misdirection - the Panthers had trouble with Hooper, who mostly ran up the middle. For the season Hooper now has nearly 1,200 yards in seven games.

"We're a second-half team," Hooper said. "Every team we've played we've come out and played hard in the second half. I don't know what it is.

"This was my best win in high school. It's an awesome feeling. Everyone feels great."

Polen said the loss - the first of the year for the ninth-ranked Panthers - may have done a little bit of good for his team.

"This was an eye-opener," he said. "We may have come in lackadaisical, thinking we were 6-0. Now we need to get back and work harder than ever before."

Hightower also wasn't taking the loss lightly. In fact, he said this loss is going to drive the Panthers that much more to win a district championship, as the Panthers would potentially see Odessa in the first round of the playoffs if both win out.

"We're going to fight our (rear ends) off so we can see those guys in week 11," he said.

Oak Grove starts district play Thursday night at Southeast. Odessa plays Chillicothe next week, with the winner becoming the favorite to win the district.


The Examiner is a locally-managed division of Morris Communications Company, LLC., with offices in Independence and Blue Springs, Missouri.

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