Posted On: 09/7/20 4:30 PM

This game was a highly anticipated rematch of last year’s playoff game where Piedmont came out on top 24-21. However, this game didn’t go quite the way El Reno would have liked. For starters, their star QB Dorian PlumleyDorianPlumley6'1" | QBEl Reno | 2021StateOK was out with a lower-body injury as he was seen throughout the night in a walking boot and street clothes. That left Sophomore QB Evan Roman Nose as the starter for Friday nights game. From there it was an uphill battle for the Indians as they were plagued with turnovers and penalties in this matchup. With that being said, let’s dive into how the game went for both teams.

First Half

The key to success early on for Piedmont was consistency and time of possession. On their scoring drive in the first quarter, they took about 7 and a half minutes off the clock while averaging over 5 yards per carry on 13 plays. The longer they could sustain drives with their triple-option attack, the harder it became for the defense to gain any momentum. Although, after being worn down on defense in the first quarter, El Reno recovered nicely in the second with a 40 yd run from Darius MooreDariusMoore6'0" | LBEl Reno | 2021OK to set them up inside Piedmont’s 5-yard line. However, two plays later, El Reno fumbled the ball on the 4-yard line and Piedmont recovered. Immediately after the recovery, it was again the consistency and duration that helped Piedmont take charge of the game with a 5-minute drive that was capped off by a long touchdown pass from backup QB Bo Phelps to their 2-way star Caden HendrenCadenHendren6'2" | DBPiedmont | 2021StateOK. At halftime, El Reno was fortunate to only be trailing 14-0 as they looked exhausted on defense and confused on offense with three turnovers and only two trips across the 50-yard line.

Second Half

After halftime, El Reno looked like a new team on offense and put together a nice drive into Piedmont territory before a couple of penalties ended their momentum and forced them to give the ball back to Piedmont. In the next few series between both teams, there were 3 fumbles including a scoop and score from El Reno’s Darius MooreDariusMoore6'0" | LBEl Reno | 2021OK to bring the Indians within a touchdown heading into the 4th quarter. Then, after a 29-yard field goal from Piedmont midway through the 4th, El Reno put together another nice possession before yet another fumble killed the drive and possibly their chance at a comeback as Piedmont would go on to score another touchdown to go up 24-7 with only about 6 minutes to go in the game. Piedmont would go on to score one last time to take a 31-7 lead with about 3 minutes in the game, but this was mostly ceremonial as the game was all but decided after El Reno’s 4th and final turnover.

Player of the Game: Caden HendrenCadenHendren6'2" | DBPiedmont | 2021StateOK – Piedmont

Coming into the season Hendren was expected to contribute in all aspects of the game for the Wildcats and that is just what he did Friday night. Hendren finished the game with over 90 yards receiving and two touchdowns to go with a couple of pass deflections, a handful of tackles, and a 60+ yard punt return touchdown that was called back due to a block in the back penalty.

Looking Ahead

Though in the box score it will show a lopsided 31-7 victory for Piedmont this game, both of these teams should still be considered as contenders for the 5A state title as this game was competitive and close for three quarters. For Piedmont, if they can consistently put together long drives on the ground with their triple-option attack like they did at times in this matchup then they will likely be among the state leaders in team rushing yards come playoff time. For El Reno, they were behind the 8-ball before the game started without their starting QB. Even without him though, they put together a tough fight against a long time rival but ended up defeating themselves throughout the night with penalties and turnovers. Once both teams are fully healthy, I expect to see a heated rematch in November when the playoffs come around.