OWASSO — Westmoore’s game plan centered heavily on trying to keep Owasso’s powerful running game in check. And for large portions of Friday’s opening-round Class 6A-I playoff contest, that happened.
But a handful of big plays in the first half, mostly from Ram quarterback Gabe Neph, proved to be too much for the Jaguars, as Owasso rolled to a 31-14 victory, ending the season for Westmoore and capping the careers for a strong senior class.
“We’ve been a family, you know?” said Jaguar blue-chip receiver Dahu Green, as a few tears rolled down his face. “You just see guys out there fighting and competing, trying to find a way to get it done, showing a lot of heart.”
But it seemed even as the Jaguars (7-4) kept trying to find the answers, Owasso (10-1) kept a step ahead of them on both sides of the ball.
Most of the damage came before halftime, as Neph ran for two scores and passed for a third as Owasso scored on four of its first five possessions and built up a 24-7 advantage. That lead increased to 31-7 after a scoring pass from Neph to Demond Sampson midway in the third and the game was in danger of getting away from Westmoore.
But instead, the Jaguars countered with their best drive of the night, marching 70 yards in 8 plays and finishing with quarterback Bryson Lee finding Green for one of his patented jump ball catches, a 28-yard score that made it 31-14.
And the Jaguar defense stiffened from that point on also, playing some of its best football of the year in allowing only one more first down.
But the Rams, sporting one of Class 6A’s best defenses, also were up to the challenge defensively, as Westmoore only crossed midfield once more on the night.
“They were doubling a lot on me, and they did a good job of disguising their coverages,” said Green, who finished with 53 yards on five catches and both Westmoore touchdowns.
Lee, another member of the Jags’ senior class, finished 15 of 25 for 113 yards but was sacked six times. Owasso defensive end Michael Anderson accounted for five of those sacks, including three straight on the Jaguars’ final possession of the night. Mike Hotchkins, a sophomore, returned from injury to lead Westmoore in rushing with 48 yards on seven carries.
Neph finished with 128 rushing yards and 96 passing yards and was in on all four Ram touchdowns. Owasso outgained the Jaguars 348-200 in the game, with big plays being the real difference. Of the Rams’ 256 rushing yards, 164 of them came on just four plays.
The Rams move on to a semifinal matchup against Jenks, a 41-7 winner against Southmoore, while the Jaguars will look forward to 2015 and the second season under Coach Adam Gaylor, who took over the program in the offseason.
They’ll do so without some young men who have had quite an impact, making playoff appearances in each of their years in Jaguar colors.
“I’ll just remember all these good times out here, being with my boys,” said Green, who has committed to play at the University of Louisville. “I’m proud of all we’ve done.”