It did not end the way it should have and it certainly did not end the way coaches and players were expecting, but seven costly turnovers ultimately doomed the Altus Junior High School Dawgs against the Lawton Central Cougars.
Altus dropped its second game of the season by a score of 28-22.
The Dawgs travelled to Lawton to take on the Cougars at Cameron Stadium and after a slight misstep in the early going, the Dawgs looked to have complete control of the game.
The Dawgs worked their way down the field in the opening quarter, making each play count to get Laethon Patterson in a position to punch one in for a touchdown.
As it turns out, Patterson only needed to be within 26 yards as he worked his way through the Cougar defense for the 26-yard touchdown run to put Altus up 6-0 after the failed conversion attempt.
But the Cougars answered back, driving the ball down the field and eating up the clock before the Cougar running back was able to slip into the end zone from four yards out for the game-tying touchdown.
After the Cougars successful conversion attempt, Lawton led 8-6 going into halftime.
Halftime adjustments worked for the Dawgs, as Altus punished the Cougar defense repeatedly to get into scoring position. Riley Barrington took the handoff through a hole up the middle for an eight-yard touchdown with five minutes left in the third quarter. Barrington tacked on the conversion to give the Dawgs the lead at 14-8.
The Cougars spent their next possession fighting for yardage when a Dawg broke through and sacked the Cougar’s quarterback and forced a fumble.
The Dawgs’ Raul Facundo scooped up the loose ball and sprinted down the field for a 43-yard touchdown. Patter added the conversion to put the Dawgs up by 14. With 37 seconds left in the third quarter, it was beginning to look as if Altus would escape Lawton with a win.
But the Cougars finally got the break they needed on the kick return. A Cougar return man broke around the left side and turned on the speed, leaving Dawgs’ players behind on a 60-yard touchdown.
Although the Dawgs still had the lead, a successful conversion attempt pulled the Cougars within six going into the final quarter.
In just one minute and forty seconds, the Cougars found a way to stun the Dawgs, scoring two touchdowns in that time frame to take the lead for good.
On second and long, with 1:40 left in the game, Facunda spotted the Lawton quarterback as he rolled to his right. Facundo knifed in and sacked him, forcing a fumble that went into the air instead of to the ground. A Cougar running back was in position to snag the ball from the air and run 34 yards to the end zone for the game-tying score.
But the Cougars failed the conversion attempt and the game remained knotted with just over a minute left.
The Dawgs were successful in scoring drives during the second half and sought to add to that success. Unfortunately, on the first play Facundo took the ball and broke through the middle, but was stripped by a Cougar defender who then took the ball to the end zone for the go-ahead score.
The Cougars’ conversion failed, but they did enough to win the game 28-22 and send the Dawgs back to Altus with a heartbreaking seven-turnover loss.
Barrington led Altus’ rushing attack with 61 yards on 15 carries, while Patterson added 44 yards on seven carries.
Facundo, J.T. Leyja, Patterson, Dylan Davis, and Jaden Revilla made their presence known on the defensive side of the ball and getting stops when needed.
The Dawgs are now 2-2 on the season and are scheduled to host Duncan at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Hightower Memorial Stadium in Altus.
The seventh-grade Dawgs fell to the Cougars by a score of 24-6, but it was a much closer game than the final score indicated.
Altus’ Isaiah Sharp scored the first touchdown of the game with 5:40 left in the final quarter, but the Cougars scored three times and made three conversions in the final four minutes of the game to win.
The seventh-grade Dawgs are now 0-4 on the season and will look for their first victory when they host Duncan on Tuesday.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.