Since 1920, Oak Grove has defeated Harrisonville only four times. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Oct. 5 game between the Missouri River Valley West Conference foes was the fourth loss for Harrisonville as Oak Grove, 7-0, won 21-14.
“Oak Grove is a pretty good ball club this year,” Harrisonville head coach Chuck Lliteras said. “They have all their kids back from last year and their running backs are pretty good athletes. You can’t turn the ball over three times and give them a short field.”
The Panthers scored first six minutes into the game on a 19-yard carry by Levi Harmon.
After the ball changed possession between both teams, Harrisonville got a first down on a carry by Zach Davidson on the 12-yard line. The Wildcats kept the ball through the second quarter with Mason Saffels carrying in the 10-yard touchdown at the 11:16 minute mark. After the kick, Harrisonville tied up the score at 7-7.
Oak Grove was forced to punt and the Wildcats took advantage with Davidson carrying a 26-yard touchdown to give Harrisonville a 14-7 advantage.
But the Panthers came back with a 41-yard touchdown run by Aaron Graham. The point after kick failed though, leaving the Wildcats ahead at 14-13.
The third quarter was the turning point for the Wildcats. After taking over on downs from Oak Grove, Harrisonville only made one play before fumbling the ball, which Oak Grove recovered on the 47-yard line.
The Panthers turned over the ball on downs again on the 30-yard line and the Wildcats got a first down on a run by Saffels on the 45-yard line. But on the next play, the ball was fumbled again and Oak Grove recovered on the 46-yard line.
“We had the ball for four offensive plays in the third quarter and you just can’t win football games like that,” Lliteras said. “It as almost the exact opposite of last year’s game. We did the same thing to them last year.”
Oak Grove had possession and was on the third down, when an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on Harrisonville led to a Panther first down. Oak Grove kept the ball through the fourth quarter and scored on a 12-yard carry by Ethan Fugitt. Fugitt also ran in a 2-point conversion, giving Oak Grove a 21-14 lead.
“It’s one of those things,” Lliteras said. “No one likes to lose. There are times we lost our composure and we shouldn’t have. But we did. We have to quit turning the ball over to good teams.”
The Panthers punted the ball to Harrisonville at the 5:38 mark and the Wildcats had possession of the ball through the rest of the game, but couldn’t manage to score a touchdown.
Harrisonville picked up three first downs and were on the 39-yard line, but a false start penalty and Davidson getting sacked to the 47-yard line forced the Wildcats to take a timeout with less than a minute left in the game. On the next play, a holding penalty put Harrisonville back to second down and 36 yards to go. Two incomplete passes later, a delay of game penalty pushed the Wildcats back again five yards on their third down right before time ran out.
Davidson completed zero passes out of five attempts in the game. Austin Hopper had 53 yards on 12 carries, Davidson had 50 yards on 12 carries and Saffels had seven carries for 43 yards.
PJ Patton led the defense with 15 total tackles, followed by Max Galeassi with 10 tackles. Landon Hern had eight tackles and Tanner Foerschler had seven tackles.
Harrisonville, 5-2, travels to Odessa at 7 p.m. tonight.
“They are struggling,” Lliteras said. “But they are a much better football team than they were last year. Anything is game now since we lost to Oak Grove...We have to get our focus back and get our confidence back or it’s going to be a long two weeks.”