GUTHRIE — With the game hanging in the balance, Guthrie's defense delivered when it needed to most Saturday.
It was a reoccurring theme all day for the top-ranked Bluejays.
Guthrie's defense came through with four turnovers and effectively sealed the game when Shawnee star quarterback John Jacobs fumbled with just less than 5 minutes remaining, ending an otherwise dominant performance on a sour note.
Guthrie then held on for a 23-21 victory at Jelsma Stadium to advance to next week's Class 5A semifinals against No. 6 Collinsville on a day and neutral site that has not been determined.
“That was the biggest of moments,” Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins said. “They came through when they had to in crunch time and created the turnover when we needed it.”
Guthrie (12-0) returns to the semifinals after a one-year hiatus and just two seasons after winning the Class 5A championship.
And the Bluejays can give credit to their big-play defense.
Senior defensive back Zontè Veasley and junior linebacker Beau Davis each came through with two turnovers apiece in crucial moments.
Davis seemed to be around the ball when needed with two fumble recoveries, including the game-clinching one.
“The first one, I happened to be in the right spot at the right time,” he said. “The second one, he actually ran me over I just got my arms on the ball and came down with it.”
Veasley's big play, though, was an interception and 73-yard return for a touchdown with just more than 10 minutes remaining to give Guthrie a 23-14 lead.
“I was seeing the end zone,” said Veasley, who also recovered a fumble early in the game to set up Kai Callins for a 5-yard TD run.
“I've never got one (a pick-six) and I've never scored at all in my high school career so I turned it up and got the blocking.”
It was then, though, that Jacobs nearly led an impressive comeback. He orchestrated an impressive 17-play, 80-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard TD pass to Chris Lester on fourth down.
The fifth-ranked Wolves (9-3) then recovered an onside kick before Jacobs lost the ball, and put an end to an impressive performance in which Jacobs totaled 324 of the Wolves' 325 yards. He rushed for 89 yards, threw for 235 yards and accounted for three touchdowns.
That caused Watkins to label Jacobs as the best dual-threat quarterback the Bluejays have faced all season.
“We faced (Carl Albert's) Stevie Thompson and we faced Jacob Lewis from McGuinness,” Watkins said. “This kid runs as hard as them, but he throws the ball so much better.”
Callins and Idae Alexander each rushed for 84 yards and one touchdown apiece. The Bluejays, however, totaled just 250 yards of offense.
“We didn't play our best but a lot of that is credit to Shawnee,” Watkins said. “They made us look bad at times. This time of year, I'm just glad we won and get to go on.”