Narrow margins are not for the light hearted.
Thankfully, the Fightin’ Chicks showed a lot of heart to pull out their 20-14 win over Duncan that sealed their place in the playoffs and a trip to Guthrie next week. Senior running back Josh Latham scored all three Chickasha touchdowns, and fellow senior Oron Bowman sacked Duncan quarterback Mason Hightower on fourth down to take the win.
It was billed as a knock-down, drag out, and exactly that was delivered. The first score of the game came with minutes remaining in the first half, but the flood gates opened in the second with both teams going blow-by-blow with a postseason prize on the line.
For whatever reason – perhaps nerves or the cold – neither team was holding onto the ball all that well early on. Three consecutive fumbles left the teams going back and forth, but both defenses were making it clear the fight was well and truly on.
Thst willingness to do what it takes to win was even more evident when Chickasha called a fake punt on 4th and one on their own 17 yard line once they had the ball back. Latham powered through for the crucial yard to keep the Chickasha drive going. It ended when they were forced to punt, and the first quarter ended scoreless.
The Demons made the first impact, and in quick fashion. Pinned back on their own 3 yard line, they just needed five plays to take a 7-0 lead before halftime. Je’Mario McCoy ran 32 yards for the score after Kelley led the Demons forward with a few big runs into Chickasha territory.
Duncan looked to have gained enough momentum after the break to take hold of the game, but a Fightin’ Chicks defense that has been crucial in the last few games fought back to force a turnover on downs. Four plays and 66 yards later, Latham capped another quick drive with the equalizing touchdown on a seven-yard run. Most of that drive was down to a 44 yard run by Daniel Neff, who after a quiet first half decided to start making some noise at just the right time.
It appeared to light a fire in the game, but Duncan must have felt that heat as well. They took the lead back with a 57 yard touchdown pass from Kelley to Nathan Clark. It was only his third catch of the season, but it looked to be the most important.
Unnerved, Chickasha struck back, again through Latham. His 47 yard jaunt was characterized by speed, strength to shed a tackler, and a lunging dive into the right corner of the end zone to tie things up 14-14 and end the third.
On fourth down, a reverse pass for Chickasha failed to come off, and it looked like Duncan might get a chance with time running out. But it had to be a fumble, and Chickasha recovered. After battling to a fourth and short, Latham powered in with a six yard touchdown. The point after was missed, but the Chicks only needed the six point lead to go into the postseason.