By CRAIG HALL
POCOLA—In a game of big plays, Pocola made the biggest one with only seconds left to end Talihina’s 36-game regular-season winning streak here Friday night.
Pocola quarterback Devon Johnson hooked up with Colton Hamm on a 22-yard touchdown pass with only eight seconds left to tie the game and Cody Young’s PAT barely sailed over the crossbars to give the Indians the 34-33 win in a key 2A-6 game.
The PAT was extra crucial because Talihina had earlier blocked two extra point kicks.
Pocola got the ball back with 1:03 left after Talihina’s Austin Lawson scored from five-yards out to put the Tigers ahead, 33-27.
To win, the Indians had to overcome a second and 26 on their winning drive and convert on fourth-and-nine. Johnson hit Dylan Johnson for a 22-yard pass to keep the drive alive and on the ensuing play, Hamm caught the touchdown pass between a pair of Talihina defenders.
Talihina had earlier built a 27-13 lead midway through the third quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run by quarterback Clark Austin.
Devon Johnson got Pocola back in the game with a 20-yard scoring run and Parker Johnson’s two-point conversion brought the Indians to within 27-21.
Talihina drove deep inside Pocola territory before the Indians forced a fumble. Dalton Richardson picked up the fumble and ran into the Tigers’ territory before handing off to Young, who ran into the end zone.
The officials ruled the exchange was a forward handoff and Pocola had to start back at the Tigers’ 45.
Pocola overcame the penalty and scored on a 36-yard pass from Devon Johnson to Hamm, and the game was tied at 27 after the conversion was blocked.
That set the stage for the late heroics by the two teams as Talihina scored on Lawson’s run and Hamm caught the game-winning score.
Talihina missed two golden opportunities to tack on additional points. On the Tigers’ last play before halftime, Austin could not score from inside the Pocola one on fourth and goal as he struggled with the snap.
The Tigers also had the drive down to Pocola’s 12, which resulted in the long fumble recovery.
The game even got off to a wild start. Talihina took the opening kickoff and drove deep in Pocola territory. But Austin’s pass was picked off by Parker Johnson and returned 77 yards for a touchdown with 9:07 left in the first quarter.
Senior running back Josh James, who had a career game for the Tigers, scored on a 29-yard touchdown run. The score was set up after the Indians forced a punt. Pocola partially blocked the punt, but the ball bounced off one of the Indians and Talihina recovered.
The senior fullback finished with 202 yards rushing on 26 carries for the Tigers.
Talihina took its first lead late in the first quarter on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Austin to Trevor Crone, who also had a big game with five receptions for 205 yards and two touchdown catches.
After the long score, Devon Johnson scored on a 43-yard run to tie the score at 13.
Crone answered with his second scoring reception, this one from 56 yards out. Talihina took a 20-13 lead, but the failed drive before the half would come back to hurt the Tigers.
Devon Johnson rushed for 88 yards and the two scores while completing 10-16 passes for 192.
Austin was 9-16 passing for Talihina for 256 yards. Overall, Talihina had a big edge in offense with an additional 317 yards on the ground for a total offense of 573 yards. Pocola rushed for 123 yards for a total of 315 yards of total offense.
The win improves Pocola to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in district play. Talihina, which suffered its first regular-season loss since a 9-0 loss at Warner on Oct. 26, 2007, falls to 5-1 and 1-1.
Pocola is at Hartshorne next week while Talihina hosts Heavener.