SHAWNEE — Deer Creek senior quarterback Caden Sander was quick to point out the play of his teammates Friday night, and for good reason.
The fourth-ranked Antlers forced four turnovers, held Shawnee dual-threat quarterback John Jacobs in check and rode a strong offensive outburst to a 41-21 victory at Jim Thorpe Stadium
Sander, though, got Deer Creek off to a fast start, throwing for three touchdowns in the first half after making an interception on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think getting this quick start, unlike last week, really got things going for the defensive side of the ball and offensively,” Sander said. “It was all the other guys that set it up for me. They did their job and I did my job. By them doing their job it helped me be in the right spot.”
He was in the right spot early, picking off Jacobs on the opening drive and returning it 35 yards to set up his 6-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Smith.
From there, things spun out of control for the No. 7 Wolves (1-1) as the Antlers scored 31 unanswered points, 17 of which came off three turnovers.
“It just kind of snowballed a little bit,” Deer Creek coach Grant Gower said. “Those early turnovers were huge as far as setting the tone.”
Deer Creek (2-0) scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, with Sander finding Alec James and Cole Verble for touchdown passes of 8 and 19 yards, respectively.
Shawnee's lone highlight in the first half was when Jacobs connected with Cole Humphrey for an 8-yard scoring pass with 11 seconds remaining in the half.
For Jacobs, it was a frustrating night. The junior rushed for 105 yards and one touchdown, but he was forced to throw more than usual facing a big deficit. He completed 25 of 46 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns.
Jacobs, though, accounted for nearly all of the Wolves' 120 rushing yards.
“We had a great week of practice leading up to this game and I think that intensity rolled over to the first few minutes of the game,” Sander said. “I think after that first pick, running it back and scoring right away everybody was just amped. It carried over the rest of the half.”
Sander finished 21 of 29 for 254 yards passing. He also rushed for 157 yards on 14 carries.
It was an impressive performance for Sander in just his second varsity game at quarterback.
“The most impressive thing about Caden is just the way he runs the offense,” Gower said. “As a matter of fact, there was so many times that just from a fan's perspective when you see some of the things, it's like ‘Man, that was amazing.'