Coweta Tiger football roared into the 5A quarterfinals Friday night with a 44-14 win over 5A-3 District mate Tulsa East Central at Tiger Field. The Cardinals replaced Claremore after the Zebras had to pull out of the playoffs due to virus problems.
No. 3 Coweta will host No. 6 Oklahoma City Bishop McGuinness Friday night at Tiger Field in 5A quarterfinal action. Tulsa Kelley defeated McGuinness 35-21 in the third game of the season.
The Tigers scored 42 unanswered points in the first half, then turned the game over to the reserves for the second half allowing everyone to experience 5A playoff action. Freshman defensive tackle Justin Robinson gave the Tigers their only second half points blocking a punt out of the end zone for a safety in the third period.
Tulsa East Central managed a pair of second half touchdowns off a 95-yard kickoff return from Will McGuire to open the second half and a later 38-yard run by McGuire late in the game.
“East Central is a class act, stepping up to take the opportunity to play one more playoff game on short notice. We appreciate getting to play the game. This has been a great year and we don’t want to forget about the love we have for each other. We get to keep playing the great game we love,” head coach Tim Harper said. “We want to keep our excitement all helmets up on every kickoff. Proud of our whole team and the fact everyone got to play. Now remember everyone probably will not get to play next week, but everyone needs to be ready in case we need them.
“No easy plays ahead, great football teams the rest of the way starting next week against McGuinness.”
In a multiple scoring battle Friday night, the Tigers only scored two touchdowns off passing and rushing, adding three touchdowns off of two interception returns for back-to-back touchdowns by Jaxon Stidham covering 20 and 27 yards, plus an 85-yard punt return by sophomore Mason Ford and a blocked punt for a safety by Robinson.
Wesley Spohn opened the night’s scoring with 11:33 left in the opening quarter as he capped off the opening drive of the game with a 16-yard run for a touchdown. Brody Rucker kicked the first of his six extra points on the night.
Stidham’s two straight Cardinal possession-ending interceptions for scores followed and sophomore multi-purpose back ran 25 yards to cap the first period with a touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
Ford provided the special team score with 4:06 left in the second period on an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown and with 1:00 left in the half, Gunnar McCollough completed the Tiger touchdowns for the night with a 55-yard reception from Starks giving Coweta a commanding 42-0 lead at intermission.
Coweta sophomore linebacker Lane Kester suffered a knee injury in the second half and had to be helped off the field. Coach Harper mentioned his loss, hoping it was not serious and pointed out before the season that junior linebacker Carter Fuser was lost for the season to a knee injury and that Fuser after the game told the team to not forget about Kester.
Coweta’s halftime statistics told a commanding story with 11 rushes for 112 yards and a touchdown; passing 2 for 4 for 60 yards and a touchdown, an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown and two interception returns for touchdowns. For the game, Coweta had 142 yards rushing, 122 yards passing and a total offense of 264 yards.
On the other hand, Tulsa East Central managed 5 pass receptions for 21 yards with two interceptions for touchdowns and rushed 10 times for 17 yards in the first half. For the game, the Cardinals finished with 9 yards rushing, 59 yards passing and 68 yards of total offense.
Hamm finished the night with 65 yards passing, completing 2 of 3 passes; Starks completed 2 of 4 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Starks also led the Tiger rushing with 65 yards on 6 trips and a touchdown. McCollough caught one touchdown pass for 55 yards and Justis Grammar caught two passes for 54 yards.
Justin Hines had five tackles (two for loss) and McCollough had five tackles to lead the defense; Rusty Treat had four tackles (two for loss), Jaxon Stidham four (one for loss), Nate Maladon four and Michael Fletcher four.
After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field, with Harper praising the efforts of the Cardinals for their toughness and willingness to compete before closing the evening with a special prayer in these perilous times for all schools.
Other District 5A-3 scores include McAlester 47 Pryor 0; Tulsa Kelley 35 Tahlequah 0 and Collinsville won by Shawnee’s forfeit.
Next week in the 5A quarterfinals, McAlester travels to El Reno; Tulsa Kelley travels to Midwest City Carl Albert and Collinsville travels Guthrie.
Passing – Team – 6 of 9 – 125 yards, 1 touchdown: Gage Hamm 2 of 3, no interceptions – 65 yards; Na’Kylan Starks 2 of 4, no interceptions, 60 yards, 1 touchdown.
Receiving – Gunnar McCollough 1 – 55 yards, 1 touchdown; Justis Grammar 2 – 54 yards; Chris Jones 1 – 15 yards; Kam Chrisman 1 – 5 yards.
Rushing – Team: 19/142 yards, 1 touchdown: Na’Kylan Starks 6 – 57 yards, 1 touchdown; Wesley Spohn 2 – 28 yards, 1 touchdown; Mason Ford 1 – 25 yards; William Mason 5 – 25 yards; Gage Hamm 2 – 4 yards.
Points After Touchdown – Brody Rucker 6 of 6.
Tackles – Team: 42. Justin Hines 5 (2 loss), Gunnar McCollough 5, Rusty Treat 4 (2 loss), Jaxon Stidham 4 (1 loss), Nate Maladon 4, Michael Fletcher 4, Elijah Fadeyev 3, Hank Searcy 3 (1 loss), Brent Krums 2, James Dougherty 2, Cadence Denton 2, Ryan Conley 1, Carson Flanary 1, Wyatt Holmes 1, Braden Youngker 1.
Interceptions – Jaxon Stidham 2 for 47 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Fumble Recoveries – None
Safety – Justin Robinson 1.
Coweta 44, East Central 14
East Central 0 0 7 7—14
Coweta 28 14 2 0—44
Cow. – Wesley Spohn 16 run, 11:33 first period. PAT – Brody Rucker kick.
Cow. – Jaxon Stidham 20-yard interception return 11:58 first period. PAT – Rucker kick.
Cow. – Stidham 27-yard interception return 9:30 first period. PAT – Rucker kick.
Cow. – Na’Kylan Starks 25-yard run 5:49 first period. PAT – Rucker kick.
Cow. – Ford 85-yard punt return 4:06 second period. PAT – Rucker kick.
Cow. – Gunnar McCollough 55-yard pass from Starks. PAT – Rucker kick.
T.E.C. – Will McGuire 95-yard kickoff return 11:40 third period. PAT – Raijzhan Thompson kick.
Cow. – Justin Robinson blocked punt out of end zone for safety.
T.E.C. – McGuire 38-yard pass from Trey Randle 4:18 fourth quarter. PAT – Thompson kick.