The Wildcats used a stifling defense and a strong running game to end a 14-game winning streak and hand Shawnee its first loss of the season on Friday.
Playing ball-control offense and stifling defense, the Ponca City Wildcats snapped a 14-game losing streak that dated back to 2012 with a 21-14 win over 5A No. 1 Shawnee on Friday night at Jim Thorpe Stadium at Shawnee High School.
The Wildcats (1-2) ran the ball 57 times for 231 yards and held the Wolves (2-1) to 48 yards on the ground. A 16-play, 94-yard drive resulted in an Adam Nicholas seven-yard touchdown run for the winning points with 7:50 left in the fourth quarter.
“It’s hard to get a win,” Ponca City head coach Josh Allen said afterwards. “You have a season like we had last year, and even in previous years, you have a lot of mental baggage you have to get through. That’s harder than the physical part.”
Shawnee head coach Billy Brown was unavailable for comment after the game.
The Wildcats broke through in what had been a defensive struggle in the second quarter when Dexter Arita broke through with a 16-yard run to make it 7-0 with 9:31 left in the first half. The drive went 12 plays and covered 69 yards. Prior to that drive, the two teams had combined for only one first down when the Wolves’ Shade Franklin broke a 23-yard run in the first quarter.
The Wolves would respond immediately. A Ponca pass interference penalty plus a 37-yard gain by Franklin on a screen pass from backup quarterback Jack Diamond moved the ball inside the five-yard line. Franklin scored two plays later from two yards out.
Diamond was in for regular starter John Jacobs, who suited up but did not play, presumably because of a lingering hamstring injury suffered in the second half of the season opener at Bishop McGuinness.
The Wildcats answered Shawnee’s tying touchdown on their next possession. After driving the ball to the Shawnee 28, Ponca City faced a 4th and 10. Quarterback Conner Larson’s pass bounced off a wide-open Michael Mongold and into the arms of Arita, who took it in for the score.
Diamond would lead the Wolves back down the field for the tying points. A pair of Ponca penalties contributed 25 yards, including a roughing the passer penalty on a 3rd-and-7 pass.
Diamond hit Cole Humphrey for 23 yards then hit Jackson Winrow for the 17-yard score on 3rd and 10 with 20 seconds left in the half.
But the Wolves could only manage two first downs in the second half. Ponca threatened to score on their opening drive of the third quarter after a long kickoff return, but Devon Watts came up with his second interception of the night on a fourth down pass in the end zone. Shawnee would later recover a fumble at their own 37 to snuff out another scoring threat.
But the Wildcats would keep on coming, even after Larson, who ran for 110 yards on 27 carries and threw for 30 more, limped off the field with a knee injury after scrambling to convert a third down in the third quarater.
Mongold stepped in and went 3-for-3 for 32 yards on what proved to be the game-winning drive.
“Shawnee’s big and we though maybe snapping the ball pretty quick at times might wear them out,” Allen said of his offense. “Our tempo might have been a part of it.”
The Wildcats ran 37 plays compared to Shawnee’s 16 in the second half.
The Wolves finished with 216 total yards. Diamond was 13-for-22 for 168 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Cole Humphrey led the Shawnee receivers with 7 catches for 101 yards.