Evans, Orange make big plays as Wolves give Coach Sexton first victory
DURANT – Big plays from Karran Evans and Jaylon Orange were enough to offset a rash of penalties Friday night as the Shawnee Wolves gave head coach Jason Sexton his first victory with a 33-12 triumph over the host Durant Lions in the District 5A-3 opener for both teams at Southeastern Oklahoma State University's Paul Laird Field.
Evans snatched four passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns while Orange ran for 110 yards on 11 carries and scored twice as Shawnee upped its overall record to 1-2 on the season.
Demetress Beavers proved to be a critical factor in the Wolves' ground game as he netted 97 yards on 11 attempts and scored off an exciting 44-yard run just before halftime.
Shawnee generated 279 rushing yards to Durant's 170 and the Wolves collected 17 first downs to the Lions' 12.
Penalties plagued both teams as the Wolves were whistled 15 times for 125 yards while Durant had 16 penalties for 138 yards.
Evans, who finished with TD catches of 44 and 8 yards in the second half, made two acrobatic catches on an important first-half drive which led to a 6-all tie.
“Karran played extremely well. He is becoming a good football player who is starting to draw attention from college scouts and opposing teams,” said Sexton. “I felt like the offseason did him good. He took it serious.”
After Shawnee fumbled the ball away on the first play from scrimmage, Durant got on the board first on its initial possession. Francisco Avila's 1-yard TD run capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive with 8:02 to go in the first.
The Wolves responded on their next series, but not without some hiccups. Shawnee was whistled for four penalties on that possession, including three straight motion penalties.
Facing a second-and-25 situation, quarterback Karsen Conaway hooked up with Evans on two straight passes. The first went for 16 yards as Evans shook off a few tackle attempts to reach the Lion 46-yard line. Then on the next play, Conaway found Evans for an 8-yard connection to the Durant 38.
Shawnee was fourth-and-one at that point, but an offside penalty enabled the Wolves to get the first down. Orange then ripped off a 29-yard run down to the 4-yard line.
Then on the next play, Orange raced into the end zone with 3:45 left to knot the game up at 6-6. The point-after kick failed.
“Both (Orange and Beavers) made big plays and helped establish our run game,” Sexton said. “I think our offensive line played their best game of the year.”
The Lions appeared to retake the lead when they drove from their own 35 to the Shawnee 7-yard line. Facing a second-and-four at the 7, it wasn't meant to be for Durant as Avila was stuffed with a tackle for no gain by Koby Mitchell. Then on third down, the Lions' Chance Dotson threw an incompletion.
Durant opted for a 25-yard field-goal attempt, but Jaden Hutchings' kick sailed just to the left of the upright.
The Wolves then responded with an eight-play, 93-yard scoring drive to go on top in the game for good. Orange's 3-yard run concluded the scoring drive with 4:06 remaining before halftime, but it was his 44-yard scamper to the Lion 19 that was the most exciting play as he sliced and diced his way into the Lions' red zone, shedding several tackle attempts. Then on the 2-point conversion, Conaway successfully hooked up with Joe Maytubby for a 14-6 Shawnee lead.
A 51-yard kickoff return to the Wolves' 22, appeared to give Durant a golden scoring opportunity. But Shawnee dialed up some intense defense to thwart the threat. Justice Simpson made a critical hit for a 2-yard loss on second down, and on fourth-and-two from the 14, Orange applied a massive hit on Avila for no gain as the ball went back to Wolves on downs with 1:24 left before the break.
It took only 50 seconds for the Wolves to go 86 yards. An 11-yard run by Beavers and a 14-yard keeper by Conaway, along with a 15-yard Lion penalty, set the stage for a magnificent option pitch from Conaway to Beavers, who raced around left end and sprinted 44 yards for the score with only 34 seconds to go before intermission. The 2-point conversion run failed as the score remained 20-6 as Shawnee took the 14-point advantage into intermission.
After winning the pregame coin flip, Durant opted to receive the second-half kickoff. Starting from their own 35, the Lions drove as far as the Wolves' 11-yard line, but a fumble and a recovery by Shawnee's Samuel Anderson set the stage for yet another Wolves' TD.
Shawnee went 77 yards in nine plays to up its advantage to 27-6. Conaway fired a pass down the middle to Evans, who caught the ball in stride and raced around left end, 44 yards for the touchdown. Ian Johnson tacked on the PAT to make it 27-6 with 3:58 left in the third.
That 21-point cushion stood up until the first play of the fourth quarter when Doston completed a 20-yard scoring pass to Josh Smith with 11:53 remaining. The 2-point conversion run was no good as the score stayed at 27-12.
The Wolves then put the frosting on the cake with a 12-play, 85-yard drive. Shawnee actually had an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, prior to the possession, wiped out by a penalty.
But the Wolves overcame the yellow flag as Ray McGirt zigged, zagged and shook his way 30 yards up to the Shawnee 45-yard line on first down.
That play set the stage for the final tally of the night for the Wolves as Conaway connected with Evans on the 8-yard scoring pass with 4:52 left. The conversion run failed as the score remained at 33-12.
“Defensively, I thought Joe Maytubby, Hudson Davis and Sam Anderson played extremely well,” said Sexton.
Shawnee hosts Tulsa Edison at 7 p.m. Friday at Jim Thorpe Stadium to continue district play.