ADAIR, OK —
Adair got off to a fast start and held off Okemah late to clinch a bid in the Class 2A state quarterfinals with a 21-12 home win Friday.
The Warriors (11-1) will face the winner of Saturday’s matchup between Davis and Christian Heritage. Davis would be a familiar foe, as Okemah was this week. The Warriors outgunned the Panthers 36-35 in a second-round game in 2012 before losing to Davis in a quarterfinal.
“They (Okemah) are so physical, so big,” Adair head coach Mark Lippe said of the Panthers. “We knew up front they were going to be very good ... We were a little ahead in our preparation, so you come in Monday, you kind of know what they do. It allowed us to really focus on our game plan. They made it tough. Everyone knows we don’t have the biggest guys in the world.”
The Warriors got a huge boost from sophomore receiver and defensive back Brock Martin, who accounted for a touchdown catch and two turnovers (interception, fumble recovery) in the first quarter. Martin suffered a hip injury in the first half and could not play the rest of the way.
With Martin out, the Warriors shifted their offensive focus to the quarterback run game. Freshman BJ Bradbury took the brunt of the offensive load, carrying for 118 yards on 19 rushes.
“Anytime we’ve played a quality opponent, he’s always figured in big in our run game,” Lippe said. “If you have the quarterback run, you can play with 12. It allows us to outnumber the defense.”
The Warriors built a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on the strength of Martin’s TD grab and a two-yard Cody Eby run.
The Adair defense gave up a long drive in each half to the Panthers (9-3). The first was a 13-play, 75-yard march capped off by a five-yard Tack Murray run with 57 seconds to play before the break. The point-after attempt failed, and Adair went in the locker room on top, 14-6.
Adair capitalized on a fumble by Okemah QB Andrew Banta in the third quarter. James Eastin jumped on the loose ball at the Okemah 32, and Bradbury connected with Eby for a 15-yard scoring pass five plays later to push the Adair lead to 21-6.
“Going in we knew they’d put the ball on the ground,” Lippe said. “We knew we had to take advantage of it. We focused on what we could control, and that was ball security. [Winning the turnover battle] is huge for us. In the past, we’ve been outstanding with turnover margin, and we just have to continue to do that.”
In the fourth quarter, the Panthers put together another long drive, going 82 yards in 11 plays to cut the deficit to 21-12 on a two-yard Murray run. The Warriors stuffed Murray on the ensuing two-point try, however, keeping a two-possession margin that would hold the rest of the way.
Okemah got the ball back with just over eight minutes to go, but Bradbury intercepted a Murray pass on fourth-and-18 to regain possession with 4:45 to play.
The Adair offense converted three first downs to seal the win.
The Warrior defense allowed just one completion on 14 Panther pass attempts, forced four turnovers and held the Panthers to 3-of-13 on third-down conversions. The Panthers were 3-of-5 on fourth downs.
Adair senior running back Cody Yoder ran for 35 yards on seven totes. Eby added 15 yards on five carries and caught four passes for 37 yards. Bradbury was 13-of-23 through the air for 129 yards and two scores. Martin (three catches, 36 yards) led all receivers, while Will Hefner (three catches, 32 yards) and Tayler Conseen (two receptions for 16 yards) added solid nights.
Murray led the Panthers on the ground with 117 yards on 28 rushes. Hunter Webb added 53 yards on 13 totes.