STILLWATER â€” Heritage Hall football coach Andy Bogert was done being cute.
He tried it in the first half, and it didn't work. He tried trick plays â€” Kingfisher was ready for them.
He tried to spread the ball around â€” the Yellowjackets were up to that task, too.
When you have a stud player such as Sterling Shepard, though, you use him...again and again. Bogert went to his star in the second half, and Shepard delivered with four rushing touchdowns in a thrilling 28-21 victory over Kingfisher in the Class 3A state championship game Friday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The Chargers finished the season 15-0 and claimed their third state football title and second in the last three years.
â€œI don't even know what to say right now. I'm so pumped and so excited,â€ Shepard said. â€œWe wanted to do it for all those seniors. They've been a great group of guys and have taught us so much.â€
Shepard's final score was a 38-yard rush with 1:12 left to give the Chargers the 28-21 lead.
Kingfisher quarterback Derek Patterson's last-chance pass into the end zone fell harmlessly to the turf as the clock expired.
Shepard rushed for 169 of 197 yards in the second half. Though Kingfisher bottled him up at times in the first half, he only had four carries. He finished with 17 attempts, coming from either the running back or quarterback positions.
In the second half, the offensive line set the tone, and Shepard followed its lead. Heritage Hall rushed for 250 yards in the game with 202 in the second half.
â€œThe line came up huge as it has all season,â€ senior quarterback Cooper Cloud said. â€œI wish I could say I helped out on the edge (blocking), but most of that was Sterling and the line.â€
Heritage Hall needed Shepard's finest performance after the Yellowjackets (10-4) dominated the first half.
Patterson and freshman running back Landon Nault each scored on fourth-down runs as Kingfisher owned 14-0 lead at halftime. The margin was the largest deficit Heritage Hall had faced the entire season.
The lead could have been much bigger for Kingfisher. The Yellowjackets intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble in the first half. But Kingfisher missed out on some golden opportunities to put even more distance between the teams.
â€œThat wasn't Heritage Hall football,â€ Bogert said. â€œWe knew the first drive of the second half was going to be huge. We had to stop them, and we had to score.â€
The Chargers did both. Heritage Hall forced a three-and-out, and Shepard scored from 38 yards with more than seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Heritage Hall took the lead 21-14 early in the fourth quarter on Shepard's third score, but the Yellowjackets came back to tie it on Nault's second touchdown.
â€œThat's a great team in Kingfisher,â€ Bogert said. â€œWe knew this was going to be battle.â€
But a battle was something this Heritage Hall team was ready for. Whenever the Chargers appeared they were going to be tested, that's when they rose to the occasion the most.
When star running back Barry J. Sanders went down with a foot injury midway through the year, some questioned if the dream season was possible.
The team learned how to play without him and learned to not panic in tough situations.
â€œGoing into that fourth quarter, I wasn't nervous at all,â€ Shepard said. â€œWe were playing our game again, and it was time to finish it.â€
Heritage Hall wide receiver Cale Courtney had four receptions for 45 yards, while Shepard had two grabs for 38 yards.
For Kingfisher, it lost a championship final for the third time in four years. Patterson threw for 116 yards and rushed for 58 yards. Logan Nault led the way with four catches for 61 yards.