For Douglass fans, it had to seem like the ball was wobbling around on the grass forever.
The Trojans trailed by four points in the final minute of their Class 4A quarterfinal game, and faced third down-and-eight when quarterback Patrick McKaufman mishandled a shotgun snap that fell to the ground behind his feet.
Only a sophomore, McKaufman kept his composure, found the ball, and with defenders crashing in on him, fired a perfect throw to Carlos Hishaw, who held onto the pass as he took a hit from a defensive back at the Oologah 13 yard line.
Two plays later, McKaufman ran in the game-winning touchdown with 38 seconds left to cap an unlikely comeback for a 29-25 Douglass victory Saturday at Moses. F Miller Stadium.
“I saw the ball on the ground and I thought it was about to be over,” Douglass senior Deondre Clark said. “Patrick stepped up. We all could have played better, but we came together and got the win as a team.”
Douglass (11-1) will face Poteau (11-1) next week in the Class 4A semifinals at a neutral location to be announced Sunday, possibly at a site like Shawnee.
After Saturday's scare, Douglass is just happy to still be playing. The current senior class experienced a state title when they were freshmen, but they were upset in the first round of the playoffs the last two years.
“These kids are resilient,” Douglass coach Willis Alexander said. “Our senior class has been through a lot — a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Their attitude was, hey, as long as there's time on that clock, we've got to keep fighting.”
And they did. The Trojans looked to be finished when Oologah drove to the Douglass 33 with under two minutes to play. But the Mustangs fumbled and Douglass took over for the clinching drive.
Senior Dameko Doddles had an 85-yard punt return touchdown in the first half, but he and the secondary struggled against the Mustangs’ passing attack. Then Doddles came up with a clutch diving catch on the game-winning drive.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Clark, who is verbally committed to LSU, rushed 25 times for 167 yards and a touchdown, and led the Trojan pass rush that played a key role in the second half.
Oologah, which came in averaging 87.7 passing yards per game, threw for 167 and three touchdowns in the first half to build a 22-15 lead. But Douglass allowed only a field goal in the second half.
We had to keep fighting, strive through adversity. That's what we do,” senior linebacker Johnny Jones said. “Everybody stepped up. We just had to believe in each other and go make plays.”