Pick a standout ... Daniel Johnson or Sonny Duncan.
``The difference in the ball game was Sonny Duncan,'' Haskell Indian Nations football coach Gary Tanner said.
Duncan made a spectacular touchdown reception and returned a kickoff 76 yards for another score as the Fightin' Indians popped Ottawa JV, 34-26, on Monday night at Haskell Stadium.
Yeah, but what about Johnson? HINU's quarterback threw three TD passes, including the one to Johnson, and ran five yards for another score.
``This was his best game, no doubt,'' Tanner said of Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound freshman from Ardmore, Okla.
Johnson completed 11 of 19 passes for 229 yards as the Indians (2-4) posted their first real victory of the season. Their other triumph was a forfeit awarded by Southwestern JV because Moundbuilders officials felt their field was too wet.
On Monday night, playing just four days after being waxed 59-20 by Benedictine's junior varsity, Haskell bolted to a 27-6 lead midway through the third quarter.
At that point, Tanner hooked Johnson because he wanted to give back-up quarterbacks Nick Lewis and Jason Jesus game experience.
``Hey, I'm a option guy,'' Tanner explained. ``We wanted to run the ball and he (Johnson) doesn't have the speed to run the option. I was trying to give our other quarterbacks some option time, but we had a lot of mistakes and that made the game closer.''
Bad pitches and botched fumble snaps by Lewis and Jesus led to a couple of Ottawa TDs. Finally, with 2:33 remaining, Tanner reinserted Johnson and the Tribe regained enough momentum to hang on.
Duncan and Johnson helped soothe the loss of tailback Chris Muskrat who is probably finished for the remainder of the season after suffering a broken thumb in the Benedictine game.
``Without Chris that puts more on my and Sonny's shoulders,'' Johnson said. ``I've got to step up more and so does Sonny.''
On the 35-yard TD pass from Johnson, Duncan leaped high and stole the ball from an Ottawa defender, turned and ran into the end zone.
``That was just technique,'' said Duncan, a 6-2, 185-pounder from Peridot, Ariz. ``I'd never done that before. I learned it in practice from coach Tanner.''
Duncan's kickoff return was impressive, too. The speedy freshman caught the ball on the run, raced through a clutch of Ottawa players, reversed field and raced into high gear, finally diving into the end zone to avoid the last defender.
``I just did what I did,'' said a smiling Duncan who had a 90-yard kickoff return against Fort Scott CC called back by a penalty.
Duncan had Tanner's vote for player of the game, but Duncan cast his ballot for Johnson.
``He was on his game,'' Duncan said. ``It was one of the best he's had. He produced.''
Haskell's next scheduled game is next Monday night against Baker's junior varsity.
Haskell 34, Ottawa JV 26
Ottawa JV 6 0 6 14 -- 26
Haskell 7 14 13 0 -- 34
Haskell -- Zach Hale 61 pass from Daniel Johnson (Scott Giroux kick).
Ottawa JV -- Josh Gehring 78 punt return (kick failed).
Haskell -- Jason George 8 pass from Daniel Johnson (Scott Giroux kick).
Haskell -- Sonny Duncan 35 pass from Daniel Johnson (Scott Giroux kick).
Haskell -- Daniel Johnson 5 run (kick blocked).
Ottawa JV -- Jay Bilbo 17 pass from Sean Fritz (pass failed).
Haskell -- Sonny Duncan 76 kickoff return (Scott Giroux kick).
Ottawa JV -- Jay Bilbo 5 pass from Sean Fritz (pass failed).
Ottawa JV -- Adam Merrell 16 pass from Sean Fritz (Josh Gehring run).