YODER – The Southeast Cyclones scored five touchdowns in the second half against the Wright Panthers on route to a senior night win 40-6 on Friday.
Both teams struggled to get any points on the board in the first half with only two drives a piece.
The Panthers controlled the ball for the entirety of the first quarter with an 18-play drive before freshman Ayden Desmond made an interception in the end zone for a touchback.
Southeast seemed to be stuck early on offense with a fourth-and-10 situation on Wright’s 16-yard line. Senior fullback Cord Herring took the snap in a wildcat formation and broke out to the right side for a sizeable gain before pitching the ball to fellow senior Ryan Clapper to get to the five. Herring finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown and the failed two-point conversion gave the Cyclones a 6-0 lead.
Southeast head coach Mark Bullington said the defense’s aggressiveness gave his team the early advantage.
“We finally started attacking,” Bullington said. “When you start catching people, then you’re in trouble.”
Both teams traded possessions to end the half and signaled a possible defensive battle for the rest of the game.
Clapper had other ideas, however, as he started the third quarter with a 72-yard touchdown run. Southeast’s lead went up to 14 points after the two-point conversion.
The Cyclones quickly forced a turnover on downs thanks to two tackles each from Herring and senior Kirk Kay.
Clapper torched the Wright defense for the second time in as many plays with a 58-yard touchdown. In the span of four minutes, Clapper had 130 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
“When your get [Clapper] the ball, good things happen,” Bullington said.
While Clapper shined with the ball, the rest of the offense played their part by creating holes for their star running back.
“We were actually coming off the ball,” Bullington said. “First half we were catching a lot of people. With the different alignment we weren’t sure where everything was at, and we finally started to come off the ball.”
After a three-and-out for the Panthers, the running game continued to be effective as Herring bulldozed down the field for Southeast on five consecutive plays including a rush for 37 yards. Senior quarterback Grant Logsdon ended the drive with a 15-yard pass to junior Austin Short who also kicked the extra point to go up 27-0.
Southeast’s defense forced another three-and-out while the offense got to Wright’s 47 to end the third quarter.
Logsdon opened the fourth with a 24-yard pass to sophomore Cole Sauer, and after a late hit by a Wright defender, Clapper scored his third touchdown of the night with a five-yard run.
Clapper led the team with 185 rushing yards on 11 attempts.
The Cyclone offense was immediately back on the field due to a recovered pooch kick by senior Jakob Kramer at the Panthers 32.
Herring followed up a gain of 22 yards with a one-yard dive into the end zone, and a missed field goal kept the score at 40-0.
Herring had 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 attempts.
Wright’s quarterback, Parker Worman, got the Panthers on the board with 36-yard pass and then a 28-yard scramble for the touchdown with 7:39 left in the game. A line-drive extra point attempt into the linemen held the score at 40-6.
The teams traded possessions twice to close out the final minutes of the game.
The Cyclones locked up the third seed in the playoffs and will face the Rocky Mountain Grizzles (7-1). Bullington said his team has changed a lot since the beginning of the season.
“We’re not the same team we were in the first two weeks,” Bullington said. “I think we make a run at it. I really do.”
The Cyclones will head to Cowley on Friday for the first round of the 1A 9-Man State Tournament. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.