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Ada Cougars Defeat No. 4 Bethany
09/27/17 -

Ada quarterback Jackson McFarlane’s tackle-breaking 7-yard touchdown run with 2:51 left in the game helped the Cougars turn back No. 4 Bethany 35-28 in an upset heard around Class 4A Friday night at Norris Field.

Ada evened its record at 2-2 on the year and starts off District 4A-2 play at 1-0, while the Bronchos lost for the first time, falling to 3-1 and 0-1.

Bethany had erased a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game with just under nine minutes to play and had stolen all the momentum.

“We beat a very, very good football team. They had won all their ballgames in the fourth quarter. There was no time in this game they were rattled because they knew what they were capable of doing,” said Ada head coach Chris Berus.

“How can you not talk about what our kids did tonight — getting up two scores, getting two great big turnovers on the goal line,” he continued. “We had kids making plays at the end when we needed it to go win. It doesn’t get any more gratifying than that.”

While the game-winning touchdown is always memorable, one of many heroes for Ada on this night was junior punter Tovan Thomsen.

Ada was stopped at its own 35-yard line after Bethany had knotted the score at 28-all. But Thomsen — who had struggled with a pair of kicks earlier in the half — flipped the field position battle with a clutch 51-yard punt that Ada downed at the BHS 15.

The Ada defense forced a three-and-out, and Bethany’s Cody Hunt misfired on his ensuing punt attempt. The ball traveled just 24 yards, setting up Ada at the BHS 42 with 6:16 to play.

The Cougars then pounded the Bronchos’ defense with runs by McFarlane and tailback Walt Labove to set up the game-winning touchdown.

Bethany’s next drive ended at the Ada 40 — thanks in part to a sack by Ada defender Jakob Smalley — and the Cougars were able to run out the clock to secure the victory.

Berus said his team may have been inspired by a speech by former Ada star quarterback Bob Warmack that he delivered at the team’s pregame dinner Friday evening. Warmack was also a successful three-year starter for the University of Oklahoma.

“(Warmack) told us that in big games, coaches are looking for players to go make big plays, and our kids stepped up to that challenge today,” Berus explained.

Ada led 21-13 at the half but immediately put more points on the board in the third quarter.

On a third-and-seven play, Jackson heaved the ball toward receiver Kylen Cooper down the far sideline. Cooper hauled it in, shook a defender and sped to the end zone with a 65-yard touchdown catch that put Ada ahead 38-13 at the 10:45 mark of the third period.

Bethany took advantage of a 29-yard punt to set up shop at the Ada 36 at the 7:14 mark and drove to the 5 before McFarlane — at his safety spot — made a diving interception to turn the Bronchos away with no points.

The Cougars couldn’t muster any offense on the next drive, and another short kick left Bethany in good shape at the Ada 30 with 1:24 left in the third. But trickery backfired on the Bronchos this time.

Standout tailback Payton Harrell took a pitch while running to his right, stopped and threw the ball toward the end zone. However, Ada’s Zach Powell make a nice interception — his second of the game — to get the ball back for the Cougars.

Starting on their own 3, it appeared Ada running back Adam Anderson had gotten his team out of the shadow of its own goal posts. But Anderson lost the ball, and Lawson Stout recovered for Bethany at the Ada 24. This time, quarterback Sam Brant scored on the first play following the turnover — a 24-yard keeper — and the Bronchos cut the Ada advantage to 28-20 at the 11:42 mark of the fourth quarter.

Disaster struck again just seconds later when Ada lost another fumble — this one by recovered by Chase Wetwiska — inside the Bethany red zone.

The Ada defense had Bethany in a fourth-and-16 situation, but Brandt — Bethany’s sophomore quarterback — connected with a wide-open Lawton Stout in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Harrell’s two-point run with 8:56 left in the contest tied the score at 28-28 and set up the exciting finish.

“Two things I believe willed us to that victory is the love we have for one another and the belief we have in each other,” Berus said.

Neither team scored on the first six possessions of the game.

Bethany scored first on a 10-yard run by Payton Harrell to help give the visitors a 7-0 lead with just 1:56 left in the first quarter.

Ada answered with a 74-yard scoring drive. The big plays on the march were a 19-yard scramble by McFarlane, a 15-yard first-down catch by Cooper and McFarlane’s 19-yard TD run. The first of his five PAT kicks on the night tied the game at 7-7 at the 11:30 mark of the second quarter.

Just 1:20 later, Ada defender Zach Powell intercepted a pass by Brandt and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to put the hosts ahead 14-7 at the 10:11 mark of the second period.

Brandt regrouped and broke free for a 57-yard TD romp, but a bad snap interrupted the PAT kick, leaving Ada on top 14-13 with 9:01 to play in the period.

The Cougars pieced together a nice 79-yard drive right before halftime. McFarlane and Cooper hooked up on a 43-yard pass and catch to get Ada close. Cooper later had a key 11-yard catch on 4th-and-8 that kept the chains moving. The talented wideout finished with six receptions for 143 yards.

Anderson would bully his way to paydirt from the 5 to cap the possession and put Ada ahead 21-13 with 59 seconds left in the first half.

Anderson finished with 79 yards on 13 carries but had to leave the field twice due to an ankle injury, for good the second time. He missed the final 10:44 of the game.

Labove, his backup, netted 25 yards on five tries.

“We had some kids go down, and we had some kids step up. They did what they had to do to get a win over a great football team,” Berus said.

McFarlane finished with 73 rushing yards and completed 11-of-18 passes for 184 yards. He accounted for three touchdowns.

Brandt rushed for 121 yards for Bethany and completed just 6-of-17 passes for 82 yards with two interceptions. Harrell rushed for 106 yards on 24 carries for the Bronchos.

Berus said he hopes to see his team continue to get better in the days ahead, leading up to a Week 5 matchup at Cleveland. The Tigers improved to 3-1 with a 28-13 victory at Harrah Friday night.

“It’s about continual improvement. That’s another thing Bobby Warmack talked about earlier today. He said great teams learn to get better every day and every week,” he said.

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