By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
It’s been a season of missed opportunities for Moore. Almost every game it’s been in, it’s had its chances to come up with the upset, but hasn’t been able to cash in.
That trend continued Thursday when the Lions hosted Yukon in a District 6A-3 matchup. Moore played the Millers tight for four quarters, but were unable to take advantage of the moments provided to them to steal the win. Yukon defeated Moore 35-14 at Moore Stadium.
“That’s the most difficult part when you know you are towing the line between success and failure,” Moore’s Casen Haddox said. “You are right there and you step across. But we always step back behind. We have to find the spark to keep us across that line.”
With 10:03 left in the game and trailing 21-14, Moore (1-6, 1-3) took over on its own 30-yard line. It drove the ball to the Millers’ 43-yard line and faced fourth and one. The Lions lined up to go for it, but a false start pushed them back five yards. Instead of going for it, coach Todd Watters decided to punt and give his defense a chance to get the ball back
The gamble didn’t work. Yukon (4-3, 2-2) drove the ball down the field and scored in less than two minutes to put the game away at 28-14.
However, the scoring wasn’t done. Yukon got the ball back again with 1:30 left in the game. Since the Lions had no timeouts, the Millers looked like they were going to run out the clock. Instead they decided to go for district points and Hayden Somerville threw his fourth TD pass of the night when he completed a 45-yard bomb with 26 seconds left.
The move didn’t sit well with the Lions.
“We had problems with them the past two years,” Moore quarterback Jordan Bernhardy said. “It wasn’t unexpected. That is just what they do.”
Haddox agreed with his teammate.
“I think it’s a little bit arrogant to throw a touchdown at the end of the game like that,” Haddox said. “If that’s who you are, that’s who you are. I feel like that’s something you shouldn’t have done.”
The Millers were the first to strike when quarterback Hayden Somerville connected for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 57 seconds left in the first quarter. The TD was set up by great field position after a poor punt by the Lions.
Moore turned the ball over to start the second period deep in its own territory. Two plays later, the Lions forced a fumble and Ryan Lujan recovered on the 10-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Lions, they weren’t able to do much with it. Bernhardy would break off long runs, then the offense would stall out and have to punt.
When the Lions finally got on the scoreboard, it was in dramatic fashion. After forcing Yukon to punt, the ball was downed on the Lions’ 1-yard line. Two plays later, Lujan smashed through the middle of the Millers’ defensive front, broke two tackles in the secondary and skirted 98 yards for a touchdown. The game was tied 7-7.
However, it didn’t last long. Less than a minute later, the Millers’ Caelan Groce caught a TD pass to put Yukon up 14-7.
With 3:17 left in the half, the Lions had a chance to try and tie the game when they forced Yukon to punt. Bernhardy scrambled for a 30-yard gain before hitting Lujan for another big play down field. That set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bernhardy to Stephan Robinson and sent the game into halftime tied 14-14.
With the Lions shutting down the running attacking, the Somerville continually tested Moore’s secondary. Late in the third quarter, it was Evan Sprayberry who got lit up for a 26-yard touchdown pass, which gave Yukon a 21-14 advantage.
A 95-yard kickoff return for a score by Moore’s DeVonte Cooper was called back due to a block in the back 15 yards behind the ball.
“Second half thing just started to fall apart,” Bernhardy said. “We kind of got down on ourselves.”