The Duncan Banner
The Duncan Demons knew if they kept pouring on the run, eventually the levies would break.
Duncan pounded away behind its offensive line for three quarters, wearing down Ardmore before overtaking the lead with 8 minutes left and going on to win 28-14 on Friday in a key District 5A-2 matchup.
“We wore them down quite a bit,” Duncan senior defensive lineman John Jones said. “I’ve got to give it to our offensive line. They did great up front and so did our running backs. Everyone on our offense was delivering.”
Ardmore (2-4, 1-2 district) led 14-7 at halftime, but found it difficult to move the ball against Duncan (4-2, 3-0) in the second half, failing to make a first down in the third quarter. The Demons, meanwhile, had no such trouble, marching 62 yards on seven plays to score on the opening drive of the second half to tie the game.
With a crowd that outnumbered the host team’s on the cool and windy evening, and a sideline that showed a level of excitement not yet seen this season, the Demons let their momentum snowball, breaking off bigger and bigger runs and asserting dominance at the line.
“We talked about it coming into the game, keeping the sidelines up,” said Duncan senior running back Cody Merrill. “We were as loud as possible the whole game. We got a little momentum going and it got us pumped up.”
Even with all that momentum, it took more than 12 minutes for the Demons to cash in, taking the lead for the first time as Merrill capped a 51-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
Senior quarterback/defensive back Tanner Norton ended Ardmore’s next drive with an interception, and then drove in the dagger as he ran in a 10-yard touchdown to put Duncan up 28-14 with 4:05 left to play.
“Both of their backs, No. 22 (Merrill) and No. 5 (Je’Mario McCoy) were exceptional,” Ardmore coach Doug Wendel said. “I never saw them go backwards. They fought for extra yards and they protected the ball. It wasn’t just the offensive line, those backs ran the ball extremely well.”
While Merrill ran for 108 yards and McCoy carried for 89, the most notable run of the night belonged to Duncan’s punter.
Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter and facing a fourth-and-1 from the Ardmore 46, senior Jack Braught lined up to punt. He received the snap, faked the punt, faked a handoff to a runner heading toward the right sideline and then turned and bolted to his left, dodging defenders as he ran down the sideline all the way to the end zone before tacking on the extra point to tie the game.
“We needed it,” Duncan coach Jim Holloway said of the play, which he called during a timeout. “We run that play about every six or seven years and it’s always a big play. You practice those specials from Day 1 and you usually only have one chance a year, two at the most.”
It was one of several key fourth-down plays during the game.
The Tigers’ opening touchdown came on fourth-and-goal from the 1, and Duncan’s go-ahead score in the fourth quarter came only after Je’Mario McCoy narrowly picked up a first down on fourth-and-1 from near midfield. That drive again looked to be in trouble as Duncan faced a third-and-9 before Norton broke off a 23-yard run.
The win keeps Duncan undefeated and atop the district standings, with a berth to the playoffs all but assured. The Demons, though, have a much bigger target in their sights.
“This is biggest win me and my team, me and these seniors, have gotten basically,” said Jones, who racked up 11 tackles. “It gets us that much closer to be district champs.”