By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
For the second year in a row, the Sand Springs varsity football team is headed to the semi-finals. The Sandites defeated Stillwater at Pioneer Stadium Friday night 49-14 in a dominating performance that nearly doubled Stillwater’s total yardage.
Hunter Greathouse was incredible in the air, completing his first ever perfect game with 11 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Trace Fleischman was the receiver for 120 of those yards and both touchdowns, while Lane Lettich led the ground game with 123 yards and 3 touchdowns, followed by Payton Scott with 111 yards and 1 touchdown.
Sand Springs entered the game 5-4 on the season against 5-5 Stillwater. It was the first time the Pioneers had ever hosted a playoff game at their new stadium, which was constructed in 2006. Sand Springs has been more than happy to help them break it in.
The last time Sand Spring was in Stillwater was 2009 and they left a trail of records in their wake, including 299 rushing yards by Terrance Dixon for 3 touchdowns. Lane Lettich tied that touchdown record tonight and nearly beat it.
Last year Sand Springs narrowly beat Midwest City for their first playoff victory since 1997 and got to rematch Bixby in the semi-finals. This year the Sandites will get a rematch against the Booker T Washington Hornets who overcame Choctaw 47-17 in round 1.
The Sandites set the pace for the night on its opening drive. Fleischman picked up 23 yards on opening kickoff return, then caught a 21 yard pass from Greathouse on the first play of the night. The next 7 plays drove the Pioneers back to their 3-yard line where Lettich stormed the endzone for the first of many touchdowns to come. Kasey Bales sent the point-after in for a 7-0 lead less than 4 minutes into the game.
The Sandite secondary pushed the opening Stillwater drive back to fourth and 14 and the offense was brought back onto the field at their 34. It took only 7 plays for Sand Springs to find the endzone, this time with a 31-yard pass from Greathouse to Fleischman. The Bales’ PAT was good and Sand Springs was up 14-0 with 3:21 in the first.
On their next drive, the Pioneers found themselves fourth and 10 at their 21 and attempted to punt it away. Instead, they found Delvin Jordan with a block that sent the ball rolling into the endzone. The kicker attempted to illegally kick the ball out of the endzone to prevent Jordan from getting a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and instead the Sandites were awarded their first safety of the season for a 16-0 lead.
The corresponding kickoff found the waiting arms of Fleischman who returned it for 30 yards to the Stillwater 32. Lettich picked up a first down in one rush, then went all the way to the endzone from 22 yards out for a 23-0 lead.
By this point the Pioneers were ready for some redemption as TU-commit Jordan Brown ran 61 yards on the opening play of the drive to prevent a first-quarter shut-out. Zach Bryant kicked the PAT and the home team trailed 23-7 going into the second quarter.
For the first time in the game, a Sandite drive was forced to punt after falling flat around mid-field. Bales punted it away and Parker Taylor took a dive to ground the ball and pin the Pioneers at their 2-yard line.
On the first play of the next drive, Lettich ran in what would have been a season-best 54-yard touchdown, but it was negated due to a Holding call. Instead, Greathouse connected with Fleischman for a 58 yard touchdown. A two point conversion attempt failed and the Sandites led 29-7.
The next Stillwater drive fell flat after 5 plays and the Sandites received the punt at their 37. A four yard pass to Bales and a couple of runs by Scott gave the Sandites first down at their 49. On the next play, Greathouse threw a lateral to Bales who heaved it downfield to Ty Fain for a 40 yard reception. Two plays later, Fleischman received a direct snap and jumped over a pile of linemen for a 4-yard rushing touchdown. The Bales PAT was good and Sand Springs took a 36-7 lead that they would ride into the half.
Once again, the Sandites would score on their first possession of the half, this time on an explosive 38 yard rush by Scott through the wide open ranks of the Pioneers that were being picked apart by the incredible Sandite O-line. Jacob Taber attempted a 2-pt conversion pass to Bales but overthrew it and the Sandites were up 42-7.
Sand Springs had another impressive drive towards the end of the third quarter. The O-line opened up several big holes and Lettich snagged 13 yards on his first carry of the possession. Scott found 11 more on his first carry. Then, after finding a hole for 15 yards, Scott broke two tackles and drug a defender another 14 yards before finally going down. Lettich grabbed 11 more for first and goal at the 10, but fumbled it away to Stillwater at their 11 just as the third quarter came to a close.
The first Sandite possession of the fourth quarter resulted in an 8 play-41 yard drive that ended with a 2-yard run by Lettich for his 18th touchdown of the season.
With seven minutes left and a 6-touchdown-lead, the Sandites retired the bulk of their starters on both sides of the ball and allowed Stillwater to drive 75 yards over 12 plays for a 1 yard run by Connor Wilcoxen.
Freshman QB Connor Pennington got to see some action as well as running back Ben Norte in the final minute of the game.
Greathouse is closing in on 1500 yards for the season with Fleischman accounting for about half of that with 31 receptions for 713 yards and 6 of Greathouse’s 15 passing touchdowns.
Lane Lettich will likely surpass 1000 yards rushing this season in next week’s game against Booker T and leads the team with 16 touchdowns on the ground in addition to his 182 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
Payton Scott is not far behind with just over 800 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Kasey Bales continues to prove himself to be one of the team’s best all-purpose players. He completed one of one passes tonight for 40 yards, as well as had receiving and rushing yards. He is 30/34 on PATs this season and has 2 field goals plus nearly 200 yards on kickoff returns.
Jacob Taber led the defense against Stillwater with 8 tackles, 2 for losses of 3 yards total. Right behind him were Jaxon Starling and Cole Dixon, each with 6 tackles and 2 tackles for loss.