BLANCHARD — Friday night's Class 3A semifinal game against Plainview didn't start out well for Blake Owen.
The Blanchard quarterback missed on all seven of his pass attempts in the first half, and was even replaced by backup Kanon Kirchner with the Lions needing to throw late in the second quarter.
Luckily for Owen, it's more important how you finish than how you start.
After Plainview took a 17-14 lead with 2:33 remaining, Owen came through.
The senior led the defending champion Lions down the field, connecting on all three of his pass attempts and picking up 55 yards on the game-winning drive.
The 20-17 victory sent top-ranked Blanchard (13-0) back to the Class 3A championship game to face No. 2 Kingfisher (14-0).
“I just didn't execute very well early on,” Owen said. “But it came down to a do-or-die situation. There was no tomorrow for us if it didn't work out on that last drive. We all believed in each other, executed better, and pulled through.”
Running back Braden Stringer picked up the other 18 yards of the 71-yard final drive, including a 1-yard touchdown run.
“Things just kind of came together for that drive,” said Blanchard coach Jeff Craig. “Sometimes when you get in that hurry-up mode, you don't have time to think and you just react. Taking the brain out of it a little bit and just being reactionary seemed to work good for us.”
The game-winning drive capped a stellar second half for Owen. Early in the fourth quarter, he converted a third and 15 with a 58-yard pass to receiver Braden Bush. He found Stringer three plays later on a 17-yard touchdown pass to give Blanchard a 14-3 lead.