Harding Has Weekend To Remember

Dylan Harding

Talented Jenks High School two-way athlete and Oklahoma State commitment Dylan Harding was in the stands Saturday night for the Cowboys 59-3 win over Lamar. It was easy to pick him out by the smile on his face that just couldn't be wiped off.

Harding fulfilled a lifelong dream, the kind that is not even close to being guaranteed, when he caught a pass from sophomore quarterback Cooper Nunley and finished a 76-yard scoring play with 25 seconds left to write another unbelievable mind blowing highlight crazy chapter in the Backyard Bowl history between Jenks and Tulsa Union. Jenks was behind at the start of that play 16-13 and won the game 20-16.

"It still hasn't set in," said Harding on Sunday afternoon. "It's something I've thought about all the time growing up. You see Kejuan's (Jones) highlight play (80-yard touchdown for Jenks comeback win over Union in 2007) and know all the tradition that follows that series.

"It was crazy when I caught the ball and was running. It almost didn't seem real. I just wanted to make sure that nobody stripped the ball from behind and then I was in the end zone hugging all my teammates."

Nunley is a sophomore quarterback who Harding said was really cool under the circumstances. Harding said the play itself is very clear in his mind.

"I mean it was definitely clear and is something you can't forget," explained Harding, who finished the game with two receptions for 117 yards and was credited with six tackles on defense. "The whole game they had been playing me in man press with a safety behind, but with the two-minute offense in I had one man, corner on me. I got by him and he turned his hips early and the ball was there."

Jenks is now 2-0 coming off the Union win coupled with a win over Texas Class 5A ranked foe Euless Trinity in the first game of the season.

"That was a hard fought game, physical," said Harding. "They were smash mouth, run, run and then play action pass."

Next week, Jenks has Owasso on the schedule and that is Harding's immediate future. His long-term future is playing at Oklahoma State. He said the events of last week and the series played out in Sports Illustrated and on the publication's website has no influence whatsoever in his decision, now or later.

"Not at all," said Harding. "It is ridiculous. It has nothing to do with me and nothing to do with my dream. I am excited now as I was when I committed, and I chose to focus on things that are really important."

As for the Cowboys win over Lamar, Harding said the game turned out the way he thought it would.

"I didn't expect anything else," he said. "I thought they would dominate and I even left with eight minutes to go in the third quarter to beat the traffic and there was already a lot of that.

"I got there a little late before the game and didn't get to talk to coach (Mike) Gundy much, but I said hello to coach (Tim) Duffie, and I'll be back for the next home game."

Harding still has a lot of full season of high school to go, but it is always nice to have a play, a highlight, a memory that you know everybody will still be talking about at your 50-year high school reunion. He definitely has one of those.

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