EDMOND — Deer Creek's defense couldn't corral McAlester quarterback Caden Pratt all night. But the 5-6, 140-pound Pratt made the biggest play of the game on special teams in the Buffaloes' 35-27 upset of the second-ranked Antlers.
With less than four minutes left in the Class 5A quarterfinal game, Pratt blocked Dillon Noble's extra point attempt that would have tied the score at 28. It was Noble's first miss in 71 extra-point attempts this season.
“I just happened to fit through the crease,” Pratt said. “It hit off my head. I knew it was game over after that.”
It actually wasn't over yet. Pratt scored on a 32-yard run less than two minutes later to give the Buffaloes a 35-27 lead, but Deer Creek could still tie the game with a touchdown and 2-point conversion.
The Antlers got the ball on their own 37 with 2 minutes left. They made one first down but then faced fourth and seven at the McAlester 40. Quarterback Joel Blumenthal was stopped short of a first down at the 37 by defensive back Mason Bumphus and then it was over.
“I couldn't be more proud of our team,” McAlester coach Bryan Pratt said. “We've been through a lot, starting out 0-3 and having our starting quarterback gone for the season. We went out and played really well tonight.”
His son Caden moved from receiver to quarterback after Week 1. Pratt, who had 1,600 yards rushing before Friday night, eluded Deer Creek defenders much of the night. He finished with 146 yards on the ground and completed 12 of 16 passes for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns.
McAlester had 298 yards of total offense in the first half in building a 21-14 lead.
Deer Creek's demise was its inability to stop the run. Blumenthal's 85-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter after Deer Creek had stopped the Buffaloes on fourth down at the Antlers 13 gave the home team a big momentum boost heading into the second half.
But McAlester (8-4) opened the third quarter with an 80-yard, 15-play scoring drive that shifted the momentum back to the Buffaloes. They had the ball for more than half of the third period on that drive.
“We really tried to talk about keeping the ball away from them,” Bryan Pratt said. “They are great offense and a great football team. For us to come out and get some stops on defense was huge and our offense was able to keep the chains moving.”
Deer Creek rallied in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns — a 6-yard run by running back Brennan Miyake and a 2-yard run by Blumenthal.
After Blumenthal's score with 3:45 left in the game, it appeared the Antlers (10-2) might pull off the comeback. Then the last thing anyone expected to happen did on the extra point try. But the Buffaloes got a push up the middle, allowing Pratt to sneak through.
Now, for the second straight season, the Buffaloes have earned a trip to the state 5A semifinals.
After the game, Bryan Pratt told his club that there is no better feeling in high school football then to be practicing over Thanksgiving.