The Urbana High School football team knows that its playoff chances may be slim, but the Hawks also understand that they have to control what they do and not scoreboard watch. The Hawks worried about their own scoreboard on Friday night and running back Raekwon Gray's 209 yards and three touchdowns paced a 44-0 win over Oakdale.
The sophomore, who scored on a 44-yard carry and added two 1-yarders, became the focal point for Urbana coach Ryan Hines all night.
“Gray is special, you saw some of those runs, he should have been tackled in the backfield and he got away,” Hines said. “He is a playmaker … hopefully we can ride him the next couple games.”
Gray, paired with fullback Michael Dunn, who rushed 11 times for 116 yards and a score, allowed the Urbana defense to smother the Oakdale attack, as the Bears recorded 94 yards of total offense.
On Homecoming night that included fireworks, Urbana received and took control after kickoff. Hines called four straight rushes with Gray and then two passes, the second of which was caught for a 52-yard touchdown by Brendan Wharton to open up a 7-0 lead 4 minutes and 6 seconds into the game.
“We knew what we saw on film and the kids executed, [Quarterback Donovan Pannell] put a great ball and Brendan made a guy miss,” Hines said. “It got us off on the right foot: first drive, first quarter, and then we just went from there.”
Oakdale started its tough offensive night by fumbling on the first play from scrimmage after a 20-yard gain, leading to an Urbana recovery. The offense would only rack up 74 yards the rest of the way.
“All year, we have played with great effort, great enthusiasm and tonight we let that go a little bit,” Oakdale coach Kurt Stein said. “I always expect [our guys] to play well…but we usually play hard and execute well, and tonight, we just didn't do that.”
Gray didn't see the end zone until Urbana's third touchdown, as his backfield teammate, Dunn, cut through holes for a 26-yard touchdown and 14-0 Hawks lead with 10:21 until halftime. The momentum was swinging toward Urbana, but it was about to stay there for the rest of the game with a gutsy decision by Hines.
The Urbana coach elected for an onside kick early in the second quarter, and the gamble paid off when Urbana jumped on the kick after Oakdale mishandled it.
“We had been working on it all week, we said that once we get that second score, we are going to [onside] kick,” Hines said. “Call it the helicopter kick.”
That pumped up the large crowd and allowed Hines to warm up Gray's legs. Two plays into the drive after the recovery, Gray bounced left, found room, and sprinted into the end zone for a 44-yard score and 20-0 Urbana lead. Following that touchdown, the game slowed down considerably the next few drives, with flags being tossed for unsportsmanlike conduct and other penalties. That didn't stop Gray, as he got the Hawks to the Oakdale 1-yard line with 1:30 left until halftime. Pannell snuck in for a 26-0 lead and Urbana was on its way to a rout.
“Shout out to my offensive line, we have been working all year,” Gray said. “After that Middletown loss, I wasn't too impressed with my effort. … Oakdale was running their mouth a little bit, so we just came out here, trash talked football, and ran it down their throats.”
Oakdale, looking for production, couldn't find it in the second half, as the Bears manufactured only 7 yards of total offense in the final 24 minutes. Meanwhile, Gray rushed for two more touchdowns, both in the third quarter, to give Urbana a 38-0 advantage. Zack Cummings rounded out the scoring on his only rush of the game, a 43 yarder with 9:01 left in the final quarter.
Next for Urbana is Frederick, and the 45-man Hawks roster shouted, “Beat Frederick,” as they left the post-game huddle.
“[Beating Frederick], that is one of our goals all year,” Gray said. “They are one of the top games that are on our list this year … they are going to try and come out and punch us in the mouth, but we have to come right back out and show them that we are Urbana and we're not just going to give up.”
Urbana 44 Oakdale 0
Urbana (5-3) 7 19 12 6
Oakdale (1-6) 0 0 0 0
U Brendan Wharton 52-yard reception (Cole Burdette kick is good)
U Michael Dunn 26-yard run (Cole Burdette kick is good)
U Raekwon Gray 44-yard run (Kick no good)
U Donovan Pannell 1-yard run (2-point conversion failed)
U Raekwon Gray 1-yard run (2-point conversion failed)
U Raekwon Gray 1-yard run (Kick no good)
U Zack Cummings 43-yard run (Kick no good)
U Donovan Pannell 4-9-76-0
O Crosby Winters 9-19-56-1, Matt Klauka 1-1-21-0, Kevin Heine 0-1-0-1
U Raekwon Gray 22-209, Donovan Pannell 5-22, Michael Dunn 11-116, Brandon Plante 1-6, Zack Cummings 1-43
O Crosby Winters 11-(-4), Mike McGraw 8-15, Matt Klauka 3-5, Benjamin Allen 1-2, Morgan Daiger 1-(-3)
U Brendan Wharton 2-68, Patrick Coffey 1-8, Raekwon Gray 1-19
O Mike McGraw 3-14, Matt Klauka 2-29, Trevor Johnson 1-23, Cameron Hill 1-5, Kevin Heine 2-8