By Buck Ringgold | Photos/video by Michael Kinney
EDMOND — Wagoner appeared in danger of being overpowered by Cushing for the second time this season.
However, unlike the regular season meeting between the two teams, the Bulldogs fought back. They rebounded from a 14-point deficit in the second quarter to take their first and only lead in Saturday night’s Class 4A championship game in the final game.
Ethan Muehlenweg’s 36-yard field goal attempt went easily through the posts and put the capper on an incredible finish for Waggoner as the Bulldogs stunned the previously undefeated Cushing 24-21 at Chad Richison Stadium.
“This game was a reflection of our season,” said Wagoner coach Dale Condict. “It wasn’t pretty, it was kind of ugly, and we just found a way.”
The Bulldogs (11-3) took revenge on October 7 for a 42-0 loss to the Tigers. Since that loss, Waggoner has rolled on and finished the season with eight straight wins, with his defense helping to lead the way.
During that winning streak, the Bulldogs lost three shutouts, including Poteau in last week’s semifinals. On Saturday, they kept Cushing’s high-flying offense scoreless in the second half, conceding just 25 yards in those last two quarters while the Tigers finished with 229 total yards.
Wagoner clinched his sixth gold ball since 2011, all under Condict’s management, and the Bulldogs won the state for the second time in the last three seasons.
“It’s not like you’re in the middle of the season when our goal is to win state championships, which is the case with Wagoner, we want to be at our best at the end of the year,” Condict said.
Trailing 21-7, the Bulldogs grabbed a pre-half touchdown with a second remaining to go to seven points. then tied it at 21-all late in the third quarter.
With 5:09 left, the Bulldogs gained possession at their own 34-yard line after stopping Waggoner on downs a few yards from the first-down mark. Waggoner kept the ball the rest of the way and marched 16 games, mostly on runs from sophomore quarterback Kale Charboneau.
Charboneau converted a keeper on fourth-and-1 for 2 yards to Cushing’s 44; then went 4 yards on third-and-3 for a first down on the Cushing 33.
After two incomplete passes in a row, while a third down from the 33, Gabe Rodriguez took an 18-yard swing in the final minute on the 15.
Wagoner then positioned himself for the potentially game-winning field goal, with Charboneau knocking the ball down midfield at 19 with three seconds left.
That brought in Mühlenweg, a senior who had been absent all of last season. But he ended his bulldog career at the highest level and left no doubt with his attempt.
“It’s great to know that I came back from not playing last season and to do it against (Cushing) it was great,” Muehlenweg said. “It’s so big that we lost to them 42-0 and it shows how much you can grow in a season to come back and beat them in the state finals.”
It also validated Condict and his staff’s decision that if the Bulldogs were able to advance into the Tigers’ 25, they would go ahead and attempt the field goal.
“If we could have said, ‘We’re going to play overtime,’ we would,” Condict said. “We kind of play back and forth, I said if we get like 25, we can try a field goal. … Sure enough, (Mühlenweg) did it.”
Charboneau completed 16 of 33 passes for 147 yards and two TDs, and also added 110 yards rushing on 26 carries and a TD.
His first pass TD was a 48-yard smash against Brayden Skeen in the opening game of the second quarter, tying the score at 7-all. Then, with a second left, Charboneau threw a fade route into the corner of the end zone, with Witt Edwards coming down for the 6-yard catch to put the Bulldogs within seven, 21-14.
That capped a 12-play 72-yard drive, the key play being a successful fourth down conversion on a pass from Charboneau that was deflected from a Waggoner player into Skeen’s hands, keeping the drive alive.
Charboneau then finished a 67-yard drive with 14 plays and a 3-yard keeper into the end zone with 1:29 in the third. Logan Bloxom’s PAT evened it out, 21-all.
“Doing it against (Cushing) was huge,” Charboneau said. “It’s so big that we lost to them 42-0 and it shows how much you can grow in a season to come back and beat them in the state finals.”
Rodriguez accounted for 88 yards of the total offense, including 51 yards from eight catches. Wagoner’s defense was led by junior linebacker Keyton Cole, who made 12 tackles, three unassisted. Sophomore linebacker Alex Shieldnight added seven tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss.
Cushing (13-1), seeking his first state title since 1961, broke a 7-all score on a 3-yard run from Jam Noah Jones with 8:09 left. Three minutes later, quarterback Blaze Berlowitz hit with his brother Brody for a 25-yard TD as Cushing built a 21-7 advantage that, as it turned out, didn’t hold up.
Blaze Berlowitz, a New Mexico state commit, was 17 of 25 passing for 162 yards and two TDs. His first TD went to Brady Matheson for 26 yards, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 1:51 in the opening quarter.
The Tigers’ top receiver, senior Camden Crooks, caught five passes for 53 yards. He was also involved in 13 tackles on defense, including six solo fights and one losing fight. Senior defender GW Burget led all tacklers with 14 stops, three of them unassisted.