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Aggies Outlast McMurry in Overtime

KSCB News - October 19, 2015 6:34 am

By Justine Gaskamp on 10/18/2015

Abilene, Texas-A familiar showdown did not disappoint as the OPSU Aggies met
up with the McMurry Warhawks Saturday afternoon, went toe-to-toe for a full
60 minutes and then came back for more in a 36-35 Aggie victory in overtime.

The two teams have now faced off three times since Coach Russell Gaskamp
took over the OPSU Football program in 2012, with the Warhawks owning the
upper hand in the previous two match-ups. Saturday’s game seemed secure as
the Aggies closed out the opening half with a 20-0 lead; but the Warhawks
bounced back after the break, battled through two score-ties and fell just
short of victory, missing a point after attempt in overtime which would have
extended the game.

The game was filled with twists and turns that gave Aggie fans one
rollercoaster ride they won’t soon forget, starting in the first quarter
with a forced fumble by the Warhawks on a 25-yard pass completion from Shane
Truelove to Devon’te Jackson. The Aggie defense responded with a Zach Clack
sack on the next drive forcing the Warhawks to punt from their own
20-yardline. Truelove then called his own number on a third-and-two play
that went 49 yards to the end zone for the first Aggies TD of the day; a
failed PAT attempt left the score at 6-0 midway through the opening quarter.
McMurry’s offense was contained for the remainder of the quarter and the
Aggie D came up with their second sack thanks to the combined efforts of
Isaia Vimoto and Devon Johnson.

OPSU held possession going into the second quarter as well as a 6-0 lead,
but the Warhawks broke through and grounded Truelove with a sack at the OPSU
40. A 41-yard punt by Jacob Test put the Warhawks back on their own 38 and
the Aggie defense held them to a quick three-and-out putting the ball back
in Aggie hands. Senior running back Chris McClendon then tread turf 45 yards
on three consecutive rushes crossing over to the McMurry 35. Rod Moore and
Truelove teamed up for a combined 13 yards and an Aggie first down when the
Warhawks swooped in for an interception in the end zone. OPSU’s defense once
again put the brakes on McMurry’s offense with another three-and-out giving
the Aggies great field position and setting up a Devyn Williams touchdown
for a 13-0 lead with under seven minutes left in the half. Another strong
stand by the Aggie defense forced the Warhawks to punt and, four plays and
54 yards later, the Aggies added another seven points to the board with a
Truelove rushing touchdown. Frustration started to show as the Warhawks
sustained two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and one sack on the
resulting drive and the Aggies left the field with a healthy 20-0 lead at
the half.

After the break each team came out with quarterback changes as Brandon Ramon
took the snaps in the first three series of the second half. The Warhawks
entered the end zone for the first time, four minutes into the third
quarter, on a botched lateral that resulted in a McMurry touchdown. Darnell
Reed then gave the Warhawks a dose of their own medicine, forcing a fumble
that was recovered by Vimoto on the 50 yard line. The real rollercoaster
ride then began as the Warhawks turned around with another interception on
the resulting play and put up a 27-yard pass for their second touchdown to
pull within one score of the lead. The twists and turns continued as a third
interception by the Warhawks was answered by back-to-back sacks from the
Aggies and a safety for OPSU. As the quarter ticked down, Truelove was taken
for his third INT of the day, but the Aggies still held an eight-point lead
(22-14) going into the final fifteen minutes.

The game got real when McMurry tied the score on an 82-yard touchdown pass
and two-point conversion with 8:20 left on the clock. Then, as OPSU was
making a move for the end zone the Warhawks recovered a fumble and then took
seven plays to break the tie going 45 yards for a TD and a seven-point
advantage (29-22). With less than one minute left in the game, Zacari
Lavender gave the Aggies great field position with a 55-yard kickoff return;
Truelove then rallied with three complete passes for 33 yards and the tying
touchdown that sent the Aggies into overtime. Red-shirt freshman Will
McKinnis saved the day with the diving catch in the endzone scoring the
first touchdown of his college career.

OPSU got the ball first and took it four plays for an Aggie TD forcing the
hand of the Warhawks right out the gate. With the PAT good from Nik
Clarkson, the Aggies led 36-29 and McMurry had one possession to keep the
game going. A seven-yard pass and four rushes later left Aggie fans holding
their breath as the Warhawks found the end zone coming within one play of
either victory or defeat. As the kicker was set, Gaskamp called a timeout;
the ensuing PAT failed and the Aggie fans exhaled with relief for the
one-point squeaker they had just witnessed.

After the dust settled the Aggies ended up with 468 total yards of offense,
on a fairly balanced attack, with 262 yards rushing and 206 passing. The
Warhawks totaled 306 total yards with 203 from passing and 103 rushing.
There were nine turnovers throughout the game; seven being Warhawk takeaways
from OPSU that cost the Aggies a total of 21 points; but the defense evened
things out with six sacks and twelve tackles-for-loss on the day.

Leading the Aggie offense were Chris McClendon and Zacari Lavender with 134
all-purpose yards each. McClendon had one touchdown on 119 yards rushing and
Lavender totaled 67 yards on return, 60 receiving yards and seven yards

There were many contributors on the defensive side of the ball. Senior
Tanner Hallford led in tackles with eight and one quarterback hurry,
followed by Darnell Reed who had seven tackles and one forced fumble.
Michael Weaver came up with the Aggies’ lone interception and Xazier Murry
was awarded two pass breakups. Assisting in the sack attack were: Royce
Asi-1, Isaia Vimoto-0.5, Sheldon Catley-1, Kameron Lyons-1, Clack-1 and
Devon Johnson-1.5.

Coach Gaskamp responded on the win, "Any time that you get a win on the road
you are happy as a staff. However, it is almost statistically impossible to
win a game when minus five in the turnover margin, but our kids figured out
a way to get it done. I’m proud of their effort and I’m proud of them for
not giving up at the end of the game. I am so happy for Will [McKinnis]
game-saving touchdown. He has been working very hard in practice and getting
better every week."

Gaskamp continued, "As a team we understand that we are going to have to
play better and clean up the mistakes for us to compete down the stretch
versus the LSC."

The Aggies will continue their travels this week with an LSC matchup against
Tarleton State in Stephenville, Texas on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. Aggie
fans can catch all the action with live stats, video and audio links
available on the football page of the OPSU Aggie Athletics website.

Carl Wooten Field will be brimming with "spirit" on Halloween as the Aggies
host a "Go, Fright, Win" game against Texas College on Saturday, Oct. 31 at
2 p.m. Stay tuned for more details; fans won’t want to miss this fun-filled
day for the whole family!


Justine Gaskamp


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