GLIDE — The Oakland Oakers’ game plan was a display of perseverance. It was a game-defining drive in the third quarter where that persistence finally paid its dividend.
Corbin Picknell busted off a 50-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and the Oakers’ defense held its ground as Oakland defeated the host Glide Wildcats 20-6 Friday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state football playoffs.
“We just kept pounding it, pounding it, and the hole finally opened up and we got it done,” said Picknell, who ran for 236 yards and threw a touchdown pass. “Our guys are tough. They never quit and stayed strong.”
The ninth-seeded Oakers (8-2) had the game swing in their favor from the first series, forcing a Glide punt on its opening possession. The snap sailed over the punter’s head, and Oakland took over at the Wildcats’ 12-yard line.
Oakland nearly suffered a similar fate three plays later, when the shotgun snap sailed over Picknell’s arms, but the junior chased down the loose ball, scrambled to his left and found Vicente Alcantar in the front corner of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass and a 6-0 lead.
Six minutes later, the Oakers added to their lead as sophomore Jayden Henry bullied his way through the Wildcat defense for a 3-yard touchdown and a 12-0 advantage.
But, as momentum can do, it quickly shifted.
Glide struck back on the ensuing kickoff. Caidyn Cunningham fielded the kick at his own 19, found a seam along the left sideline and raced 81 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, the Wildcats were back in the ballgame.
From that point forward, it was a pure battle of wills.
Oakland took the kickoff to open the second half, but Picknell was intercepted by Glide’s Colby Bucich, and the Wildcats took over in Oakland territory. Forced to punt on fourth-and-18, Glide passed on a fake punt and drew a pass interference penalty, improving to a fourth-and-3 situation. Cunningham was stopped short, and Oakland took over at its own 35.
After Cunningham sacked Dakota Percell forcing a third-and long for the Oakers, Picknell busted off consecutive runs of 11 and 4 yards for a fresh set of downs. On second-and-27 from the 50, Picknell went straight up the middle to paydirt, and the Oakers proceeded to slam the proverbial door.
On Glide’s next series, Oakland sophomore defensive end Ben Paschall sacked Cunningham for a 12-yard loss on second down, and Cunningham’s third-down pass deep down the right sideline was intercepted by Chandler Miller at the Oakland 30.
Paschall finished with three sacks, with Timmy Sigl, Baker Brooksby, Jesse Parker and Shain Reece also bagging QB sacks. Percell iced the win with an interception on the final play of the game.
“We pride ourselves on being conditioned, but we weren’t happy defensively (in the first half),” Oakers coach Ben Lane said. “In the second half, our defensive ends came out on fire.”
Bucich brought in his second interception of the game in the end zone near the end of the fourth quarter to stall an Oakland scoring chance.
The Oakers ran for 380 yards, with Wil Powell gaining 94 yards — picking up a few key first downs along the way — and Henry finishing with 50 yards.
For Cunningham and his fellow seniors — Gage Dill, Caleb Alexander, Austin Warner, Sebastian Florence, Hunter Rinnert and Ethan Wilding — the loss will sting, but he said it won’t dampen his spirit.
The Wildcats finished 5-5 overall, with a district title to their credit.
“It is what it is. It’s our last game,” said Cunningham, who led one final team huddle after the game.
“I’m going to enjoy this for a few years. (Oakland) played a great game. They came to hit, for sure.”
The Oakers will now face either 16th-seeded Grant Union or No 1. Kennedy, who play Saturday. The quarterfinal will likely be played on Nov. 16.
Oakland 12 0 8 0 —20
Glide 6 0 0 0 —6
O — Alcantar 12 pass from Picknell (kick blocked)
O — Henry 3 run (run failed)
G — Cunningham 81 kickoff return (kick blocked)
O — Picknell 50 run (Picknell run)