Deer Creek's debut in the Edlam rivalry was a smashing success.
Playing a high school football game against one of the big three in Edmond for the first time, the Antlers thrashed Edmond Memorial 45-14 Thursday night at Wantland Stadium.
Deer Creek's Alec James, who scored touchdowns on both offense and defense, said it felt good for the Class 5A Antlers (3-0) to beat a Class 6A team, something they've rarely done.
Deer Creek, ranked fourth in 5A, turned four Bulldog turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions) into 24 points. Antlers' quarterback Joel Blumenthal tossed five touchdown passes, completing 15 of 21 passes for 248 yards.
Blumenthal also rushed for 90 yards on 18 carries. He would have had more than 100 yards on the ground but was credited with -17 yards on his last two carries because of quarterback sacks.
Edmond Memorial coach Justin Merideth said Blumenthal's performance was the difference in the game.
“He was awesome tonight,” Merideth said. “He did a great job, especially early in the game when we had some momentum and were making some plays. He would bust a long one on a scramble or he would scramble around and make a big play (passing). I thought he was unbelievable tonight. I thought he was a big, big reason they were able to beat us.”
Blumenthal's five touchdown passes were to five different receivers.
“That is the depth in our receiving corps,” Deer Creek coach Grant Gower said.
Throwing touchdown passes to five different guys is the result of the system, Blumenthal said.
“We run the spread and try to get everybody the ball,” he said. “Today, everybody made the plays.”
Perhaps the biggest came early in a scoreless game after Edmond Memorial had faked a punt in its own territory and converted a first down. But on the very next play, James stole the ball from Bulldog quarterback Warren Wand and raced 60 yards for a touchdown.
“They were holding him up and I ripped it from him,” James said. “I just got lucky. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Gower said James' strip “really set the tone” for the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs responded on their next possession, going 80 yards in five plays, capped off by Wand's 32-yard touchdown run to tie the game. Things then unraveled for Edmond Memorial in the second quarter.
Deer Creek scored 21 straight points, including a 99-yard touchdown drive right before the half that demoralized the Bulldogs. With Deer Creek leading 21-7, the Bulldogs faced fourth and goal at the 1 when Wand was ruled down short of the goal line, although it appeared from a television replay that his knee never touched the turf and he had scored.
The Antlers then traveled the length of the field in just 2:30 as Blumenthal finished the drive with an 8-yard scoring toss to slot receiver Jared Rayburn.
“I think that was really, really huge when we were able to get that drive right before the half,” Gower said.
Wand finished the game with 207 yards rushing on 21 carries, but 170 came in the first half. The sophomore started the season at quarterback but was moved to running back last week against Enid.
He was forced to play quarterback against Deer Creek because the starter at Enid, Tyler Holcomb, sprained his ankle against the Plainsmen and was held out of Thursday's game.
Wand was only 2 of 6 passing for 19 yards with two interceptions. Merideth said Holcomb, a 6-4 senior transfer from Stillwater and the better passer, should be healthy next week so Wand can return to running back and make the Bulldogs (0-3) tougher to defend when district play opens.
“Any offense that is more balanced is a lot harder to stop,” Merideth said. “Tyler helps us to be more balanced.”
Gower said the Antlers treated Thursday night's game as an Edlam battle.
“Obviously, we are not an Edmond Public School, but that was kind of our thought,” he said. “It was an Edlam-type setting. We are headed toward 6A. That was the motivation for this scheduling in the first place.
“The next time we schedule them it may be a district game for us. We could easily be a 6A team the next time there is district realignment.”
Said Blumenthal: “We just wanted to prove we were one of the best teams in Edmond.”
The Antlers certainly proved that.