No. 1 Sandites fall 17-12 to No. 4 Booker T. Washington after late fumble

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The No. 1 ranked Charles Page High School varsity football team (5-3, 3-1) lost a heart-breaker Thursday night at Memorial Stadium, giving up a 12-10 lead in the fourth quarter to the No. 4 Booker T. Washington Hornets (5-3, 3-1). Sand Springs's stout defense had utterly shut down the Hornets all night, while the offense more than doubled their foes, but a fumble at the Sandites' three-yard line undid their hard work and allowed the Hornets to take the final lead.

The Hornets averaged more than 350 yards per game going into Thursday night's matchup, and the Sandites held them to 124. They gave up nine first downs and only two yards in the air, while racking up twenty yards on six tackles for loss.

It was a defensive showdown from both teams from the very beginning. Booker T. received the ball to start the game, but Sand Springs held them to fourth and twelve to take possession without giving up a first down. The Sandite offense drove a mere sixteen yards on seven plays before punting it back to their foes. The Hornets picked up a first down on a ten-yard run from Rylan McQuarters, but were then pushed back to fourth and sixteen and punted away their second possession. 

Sand Springs's second possession wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. Senior quarterback Hunter Greathouse took a reverse and was ran out for an eight-yard loss. After a handoff to Payton Scott gained only one yard and a deep pass attempt intended for Kasey Bales was broken up by Daxton Hill, the Sandites were forced to punt. The punt was called back for an unsportsmanlike penalty that gave the Sandites renewed hope on fourth and two. 

Payton Scott picked up the first down to keep the drive alive. After being pushed back to third and fifteen, Greathouse found Mack Thompson for nineteen yards, then hit Bales for 22. Bales finished off the drive with a nineteen-yard reception to draw first blood. A two-point pass attempt fell incomplete and the Sandites led 6-0 with 1:45 in the first half.

Booker T.'s next drive was methodical and effective, using more than seven minutes to drive 61 yards over seventeen plays for a one-yard run by quarterback DJ Jones. With 6:22 in the half, the visitors took a 7-6 lead.

Both teams' next possessions fell flat, but the Sandites got one last shot at a march downfield before halftime. Greathouse connected with tight-end Dash Fleischman for twelve yards, then hit Thompson for 44 to park the offense at the Hornet six-yard line. That's where the magic ran out. Scott took a handoff for no gain. An endzone pass attempt was nearly intercepted. Greathouse was flushed from the pocket and had to scramble to avoid negative yardage on third down. At fourth and six Alex Hernandez attempted a 24-yard field goal but bounced the kick off one of his teammates and Greathouse managed to fall on it and end the half. 

Bales started off the second half with a bang, returning the opening kickoff 56 yards to the Hornet 22, but the offense was unable to capitalize and turned over the ball on downs at the sixteen. 

Booker T. had an equally difficult time making a play happen and punted away possession to the Sandite 45. This time the home team hit pay dirt. 

Scott picked up twelve yards in two runs, then Greathouse hit Thompson for ten. Greathouse hooked up with Scott for a 28-yard pass to roll up to the Hornet two-yard line. On third and short, the Sandites stuffed Greathouse into the endzone for the score. Once again the two-point conversion failed, but the boys held a 12-7 lead with 4:53 in the third.

 The visitors' next drive was held to a 36-yard field goal to cut the Sandite lead to 12-10 barely into the fourth quarter. That's when things began to fall apart.

The Sandites returned the kickoff to their 35, then Dalton Morgan fumbled it away to Isaiah Johnson. The defense was able to prevent Booker T. from moving the ball, but for the second possession in a row, the Sandites' gave up another fumble on the first play. This time Greathouse was unable to haul in a high snap and the Hornets got the ball at the Sand Springs two-yard line. After a pair of five-yard penalties for twelve men on the field, the Hornets finally found the endzone on a ten-yard run from McQuarters to take the 17-12 advantage.

Both teams had short possessions from there, and Sand Springs got another crack at it with 5:18 left. Greathouse hit Bales for thirty yards, then found Scott for 18 to enter the redzone. The drive ran out of juice, however, and three incomplete passes and a tackle for loss gave Booker T. possession at their 10. 

The Sandites had one last shot with 1:07 left, but Greathouse was sacked, then called for intentional grounding. A third pass attempt fell incomplete and McQuarters picked off the fourth to end the game.

Greathouse finished the game 13-26-237-1 with one touchdown by air and one on the ground. Scott's streak of seven-straight games with hundred-plus-yard performances came to an end with 21 carries for 52 yards. Bales was the leading receiver with six receptions for 97 yards and a score. Delvin Jordan led the defense with eight unassisted tackles, including one for a loss of three yards. Nathan Simonton was next up with six unassisted and one assisted tackle for a loss of one yard. 

Despite the loss, the Sandites are still third in district standings with two games left in the regular season. They will return to action next Friday at No. 13 Bartlesville (4-4, 3-2), who just lost 63-14 to No. 3 Bixby (5-3, 3-1). Booker T. will host Bixby next week.