Mustang running back Gunner Cook dives for the goal line and a Hoxie score during Friday night's second-round state playoff game at Crider Field. Teammate Drew Defries provided blocking assistance on the run. The Mustangs advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A playoffs with a 27-26 overtime win over Barton and will host Earle Friday night at 7.
Submitted Photo ~ David Dobbs

Mustangs advance
to state quarterfinals

Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

Casey Middlecoff kicked the game-winning extra-point following a Gunner Cook touchdown run to lift the Hoxie Mustangs to a 27-26 overtime victory over the Barton Bears in the second round of the 3A state football playoffs Friday night at Crider Field.

The win sets up a rematch between the Mustangs and 3A-3 Conference rival Earle in the quarterfinals this Friday. Hoxie defeated Earle 21-12 in a regular season contest on Oct. 11.

The Bears took the early lead on Chajobie Fulcher's 41-yard run with 7:36 to play in the first quarter.

Hoxie answered on their ensuing possession when Slade Sullens took a pass from Cole Sears and sprinted 48 yards into the end zone with 6:49 to play in the period. The PAT was no good, allowing Barton to hang on to a 7-6 edge.

The Mustangs drove deep into Barton territory on their next possession, but an interception at the one-yard line ended the scoring threat.

Hoxie got the ball back after a long Barton drive ended with a missed field goal. Sears gave the Mustangs their first lead on a 47-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Wilson with 2:41 left in the half. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but the Mustangs took a 12-7 lead into halftime.

Barton regained the lead at 13-12 on a four-yard run by Fulcher midway through the third quarter.

Following a Hoxie punt, the Bears took over deep in their own territory and committed a costly turnover. The Mustangs' Stephen Arnold recovered a Barton fumble at the 21-yard line. Cook capped the short drive with a two-yard run to put Hoxie ahead 18-12. Sears ran for the two-point conversion, making the score 20-13 with 2:07 to play in the third quarter.

The Bears took over and drove into Hoxie territory, where they faced a fourth-and-two at the seven-yard line with 8:48 to play in the game.

Sears tackled a Barton ballcarrier for a loss, ending the threat.

Hoxie's offense took over and put together a long drive that chewed over six minutes off the clock before turning the ball over on downs. Barton took advantage of the opportunity when Laquarius Hall connected with Quinten Simmons for a 56-yard touchdown pass with 1:34 to play.

A Hail Mary by the Mustangs fell incomplete and the teams went to overtime deadlocked 20-20.

Barton had the ball first in overtime and took a 26-20 lead on a one-yard run by Hall. The PAT was missed, however.

Hoxie took over on offense and Cook scored on a 10-yard run to tie the game. Middlecoff booted the PAT to give the Mustangs the victory.

The teams combined for nearly 700 yards of offense, with Barton holding a slight edge in total yards, 343-326.

Cook led Hoxie in rushing with 136 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Sears added 54 yards on 13 attempts. Kyle Wilson carried once for six yards, and Jacob Henson had one carry for five yards.

Sears finished with five completions in 13 pass attempts, for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Sullens had two receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. Hunter Wilson had one catch for a 47-yard touchdown. James Johnson had one reception for 17 yards, and Cook caught one pass for three yards.

Defensively for the Mustangs, Robert Vaughn had six tackles, including two for loss. Colton Brown recorded five tackles and caused a fumble.

Sears had three tackles. Kyle Wilson, Sullens, Austin Williams, Dillon Cheatham, Dillon Cagle and Derek Woodard each had two tackles.

Arnold had one tackle and two fumble recoveries. Hunter Wilson, Henson, Conner Roberts and Seth Wagoner each had one tackle.

Hoxie will host Earle in the quarterfinal round on Friday at 7 p.m.

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