By JOEL COLEMAN
ACKERMAN â€“ It remains to be seen if Ackermanâ€™s defense can lead to a championship, but it certainly has helped buy the Indians at least one more week of play.
Hosting Oâ€™Bannon in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs on Friday, Ackerman kept the Green Wave off the scoreboard to win 21-0.
The victory allows the Indians to host a second-round game next week against Broad Street, who topped Baldwyn 22-14 on Friday.
Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger saw positives and negatives out of his Region 2-2A champion Indians as they topped Oâ€™Bannon to stay alive in the postseason, but in the end Dillinger said heâ€™s just proud his team can continue on with the season.
â€śWe left some opportunities out on the field, but we win, survive and advance,â€ť said Dillinger. â€śI donâ€™t think we played our best game by far, but we won and just have to move on, get better and play better next week.â€ť
Offensively, Ackerman (9-3) rode a two-touchdown rushing effort from running back K.J. Woods and quarterback Dakota Brasherâ€™s 172 passing yards to its seventh-straight win.
Woods, who finished with 96 total yards on the ground, got the Indians going early in the first quarter with a 2-yard scoring run that capped off an eight-play, 70-yard drive on the opening possession of the game.
Oâ€™Bannon (5-7), the Region 4-2A No. 4 seed, was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, trapping Ackerman back at its own 2-yard line.
The poor field position didnâ€™t bother the Indians.
Ackerman drove nearly the entire length of the field, doubling its lead to 14-0 by the time the possession concluded on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Brasher to Quinton Lane early in the second quarter.
Ackerman defensive end Dylan Bagwell said the two early touchdowns and the two-score lead was huge in a playoff environment.
â€śI think it helped us out a lot,â€ť said Bagwell. â€śIt got the momentum up for us and let us settle in.â€ť
According to Dillinger, Ackerman may have gotten a little too comfortable at times defensively.
Even while in the process of posting the shutout, Dillinger said his club missed some chances to cut several Green Wave drives short.
â€śWe think they had too many first downs and chances to score,â€ť said Dillinger. â€śThey had a couple of touchdowns called back on penalties. Now I think they committed them and that probably allowed them to break them, but still weâ€™ve got to play a lot cleaner than that. Thatâ€™s not as well as we can play.â€ť
Despite any inconsistencies, Ackerman put the game away early in the fourth quarter.
Starting on the Oâ€™Bannon 47-yard line, the Indians used five plays to get in the end zone and cap the nightâ€™s scoring courtesy of a 4-yard touchdown run by Woods.
When the game clock expired moments later, Ackerman had avoided any type of letdown, something that Dillinger had been warning his club about all week.
â€śI told them again before the game that somewhere thereâ€™s going to be a No. 4 that beats a No. 1, so youâ€™ve got to go play regardless,â€ť said Dillinger. â€śYou canâ€™t worry about the seeding because you all can be eliminated just the same.â€ť
On this night, Ackerman remained alive.
The Indians hope they can say the same after next weekâ€™s game against Broad Street.
â€śWeâ€™re going to come out and get better in practice next week,â€ť said Bagwell. â€śWeâ€™re going to do what it takes to keep moving on.â€ť