MEXIA — Damiyne Durham came diving in from the offense’s left side, hoping to get a piece of the kick from Abbott’s Cade Ramsey.
All Durham got was a helmet directly into his knee after running into the holder, and as the Oakwood star quarterback and defender lay writhing on Blackcat Field in pain, the dream season that the Panthers had hoped for all year slowly slipped away.
Oakwood fell to Abbott, 78-33, in a mercy-rule shortened Division I, Region IV championship game here Friday, with 52 of Abbott’s points coming after Durham left with his injury and didn’t return.
“It took our running game (out of the spread) completely,” OHS coach Mike Heckathorn said of the loss of Durham.
It’s not as if the Oakwood defense changed with Durham going out, however. Prior to the junior’s injury, the Panthers put up very little resistance in the face of the Abbott offensive attack.
Abbott opened the game with a kick-off return for a score, and then took only one play on each of its next two drives to find the endzone, with Tyler Russell rushing for both scores.
What changed for Oakwood when Durham left the field was its ability to keep up with Abbott.
Durham led the Panthers to three-straight scoring drives to open the game, converting 4th-and-long on the first two at around midfield to keep things alive in the process.
On the first drive, he found Dominique Johnson for a 42-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-15, while hitting Shaquille Caldwell for a 29-yard pass down inside the five on the second.
After the third-drive, which Durham capped himself with a bruising three-yard run, the Panthers led 20-18 and had plenty of momentum.
But, Abbott answered right back and Dillon Beims capped a quick drive with a three-yard scoring run to put Abbott up 24-20, and set up the kick in which Durham was injured.