ONEIDA | The Indians desperately wanted a win to avoid a 3-game losing streak as the playoffs near.
But Sequoyah has been far longer without a win, entering Friday's game at Jim May Stadium with a 42-game losing streak. And, for a while, it looked like the Chiefs were going to find a way to break through against the highly-favored Indians.
Oneida trailed 6-0 at half time before putting two quick touchdowns on the board in the second half to grab the game for good. Even still, Sequoyah refused to go away, and it was not until an interception near midfield in the final minute of the game that the Indians could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Friday's game was a bit of a role-reversal for the Indians. All season, Oneida's run game has struggled mightily, while junior quarterback Caden Rector has been setting passing records.
But Friday, it was the Indians' passing game that struggled, while Rector had a career night on the ground.
The junior quarterback completed only 9 of 26 passes for 98 yards, but had 165 yards on the ground — on just seven attempts.
Rector averaged a whopping 24 yards per carry, scored two touchdowns, and had a 52-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter to finally seal it for the Indians.
Colten Daugherty, who returned from injury, was Rector's leading target through the air, with three catches for 50 yards. Reice Kennedy had two catches.
Oneida didn't turn the ball over, but struggled to consistently move the ball in the first half. Penalties were also an issue; the Indians finished with 15 for 130 yards.
As a result, Sequoyah held a 6-0 lead at halftime, thanks to a 39-yard pass from Aaron Hunt to Cooper Duff early in the second quarter.
The Chiefs could not muster much on the ground against an Oneida defense that was determined to stop the run. After being victimized by powerful rushing attacks in back-to-back road games, the Indians' defense smothered Sequoyah. The Chiefs averaged less than half a yard per carry.
When Sequoyah did find success offensively, it was usually through the air. The Chiefs finished with 214 passing yards.
Oneida finally found the end zone and took the lead midway through the third quarter, with Rector scoring on a 20-yard run.
Moments later, the Indians were in the end zone again, this time on a 25-yard pass from Rector to Daugherty.
The momentum belonged completely to Oneida, but Sequoyah refused to go away. The Chiefs scored on a two-yard run by Hunt, but the two-point conversion try failed, leaving the Indians with a two-point lead, 14-12.
Oneida then scored on a one-yard run by TJ Meredith, the junior's first touchdown of the season, to make it 21-12.
Then things began to get interesting. First, Sequoyah scored with 1:48 to play on a one-yard run by Hunt. That made it 21-19. Then Rector broke free for a 52-yard score with 1:13 to play, which would have appeared to seal it for the Indians. But the PAT failed, leaving a sliver of daylight for Sequoyah.
However, the Chiefs were unable to take advantage of the opportunity, and Oneida came up with its second interception of the game to end it.