MOORE — With 2:33 remaining in the Class 3A semifinals, Blanchard football coach Jeff Craig sensed some panic from his team.
The top-ranked Lions were in unfamiliar territory. They trailed Plainview 17-14, having just given up a go-ahead touchdown after squandering a 14-3 fourth-quarter lead.
Facing its first deficit of the postseason, Blanchard responded.
The Lions went on an 11-play, 71-yard drive capped by a Braden Stringer 1-yard touchdown run to send the defending champions back to the state title game with a 20-17 victory at Moore Stadium on Friday night.
“That last drive was all the hard work we've been putting in these last few years,” said Stringer, who had five carries for 22 yards on the final drive. “It's that never quit attitude we have. The people that have the most invested never surrender. That last drive we had was something else. It was awesome.”
Stringer rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in the first half. But the Plainview defense tightened, holding Stringer to 12 yards on his first nine carries of the second half.
“When it's crunch time, and you got have it, you give it to (Stringer) and let him go get it,” Craig said. “When you give it to him going downhill he's hard to stop, and he got it done once again.
“Right at the moment (after Plainview took the lead) we were a little taken back. But once we got to the sideline we got that demeanor changed. Our senior leadership took over, and we went and got it.”
Stringer finished with 152 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. The senior turned his only reception into a 17-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.