By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The No. 2 ranked Charles Page High School varsity football team (6-4, 4-2) took on the No. 3 Bixby Spartans (7-3, 5-1) Friday night in a District Championship showdown at Spartan Stadium. The Sandites battled valiantly in their regular season finale, but fell 35-19 to take the number four seed going into the playoffs.
It was a defensive showdown from the very beginning as the Spartans drove only 27 yards in 10 plays and the Sandites got a turnover on downs at their own 38 with some great pass defense. They were unable to capitalize however, despite a pair of impressive third down conversion runs from Payton Scott, as receiver Kasey Bales gave up a fumble to Coby Tillman.
This time the Spartans wouldn’t be stymied as they pushed 69 yards to score in only six plays. Quarterback Tanner Griffin let loose a deep pass to Eric Calton-Watkins who was stopped by his own feet at the one yard line for a 51 yard gain. Tucker Pawley was stopped once on the run by Delvin Jordan, but found the endzone on his second attempt to take the lead. Jason Campbell sent in the point-after and the home team was off to a good start.
The Sandites started off their drive well with a 23 yard run from Scott, aided by stellar stride-for-stride blocking from tight-end Dash Fleischman. Scott nabbed another first down on an eleven yard run, but was brought to a stop for a loss of one on his next play. Two incompletions later and Greathouse punted away possession.
The Spartans picked up a first down with a 22-yard pass from Griffin to Sam Sherman to end the first quarter, then grabbed 18 yards on a Pawley run, who was barely brought down with a shoe-string tackle from Cody Motes. They drove the final fifty yards in seven plays, capped by a thirteen-yard run from Pawley to score and make it 14-0 shortly into the second quarter.
The Sandite offense found their legs on the next possession. Scott went down for a loss of three to start, but Greathouse connected with Mack Thompson for twelve and Scott tacked on the extra yard for the first down. Scott grabbed the next conversion as well with a 25 yard run before being brought down by Cade Cannon. Greathouse found Bales from forty yards out for the first Sandite score and Alex Hernandez tacked on the point-after to cut the deficit to 14-7.
Unfortunately for the Sandites, Clayton Barbour laid in wait for a 95 yard kickoff return to regain the two-score advantage.
Both teams exchanged possessions from there and the Sandites were next to strike. Caleb Wash hauled in a ten-yard screen from Greathouse, capped by a facemask penalty, and Scott ended the drive out with a 36-yard run to score. The point-after was blocked by Brendon Evers, and the Spartans had 1:40 to work with.
They made the most of it, driving 64 yards in nine plays, but a fourth and short fumble in the redzone saw Luke Bratcher come up with the ball to enter the half 21-13.
The third quarter didn’t start pretty for the Sandites as Greathouse barely recovered a fumbled hike, just to launch it ten yards short of his intended receiver and into the arms of Colton Tafoya. The Spartans capitalized, moving 76 yards on three runs, a pass, and a personal foul, to score on an eleven yard run by Pawley to make it 28-13.
The Sandites pushed 24 yards to midfield on their next possession and punted it away to Kordel Tyler who fumbled. The Sandites nearly had it but the ball squirted out and Drake Allen secured it for his team.
Delvin Jordan and the Sand Springs sideline thought they had a fumble recovery after what appeared to be a Tanner Griffin lateral fell incomplete, but it was ruled to be a forward pass.
The two teams traded punts from there until finally the Sandite offense found momentum late in the quarter. Greathouse hit Bales for 43 yards and nearly scored on the next play. The quarterback found Mack Thompson from 28 yards out, but the receiver was just a tad out of bounds in the back of the endzone. A pass interference call soon after put the Sandites in the redzone where Scott picked up another first down on a ten-yard run to end the third at the Spartan five.
On second and goal at the five, Scott managed to recover a fumbled handoff for no gain, then moved it up to the three but couldn’t find the endzone. On a fourth down the running back was stuffed and the Spartans got the ball.
They wouldn’t have it for long, however, as an interception from Tyler Delozier gave the Sandites a fresh set of downs, once again at the three. This time it Greathouse with the run and he scored from two yards out to cut the lead to 28-19. The extra point was no good, and the Sandites had 9:06 to score twice.
The Spartans pushed it to a three-score lead on their next possession, driving 65 yards in eleven plays, capped by a five-yard run from Pawley. The next Sandite drive made it to the Spartan 39 before giving up a turnover on downs. On the Spartans final possession they pushed as far as the Sandite 16 before they were able to drain the clock and secure the win.
Greathouse finished the evening 15 of 33 passing for 179 yards, a touchdown, and one interception to surpass the 3,500 mark of his career. He also had one score on the ground with 7 yards on four carries. Scott led the ground game with 26 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown and surpassed 1,500 yards for the season. Bales was the leading receiver with six receptions for 98 yards and a score. Defensively the Sandites were led by Dalton Morgan with 12 total tackles, followed by Josh Taber with 10 tackles, all unassisted. Hayden Cramer, Delvin Jordan, and Cody Motes all had eight tackles each.
On the Spartan side of the ball, Griffin finished 24 of 33 passing for 254 yards and an interception. Seminole State-commit Nic Swanson was his leading receiver with 11 receptions for 93 yards. Pawley was the man of the night with 36 carries for 248 yards and all four offensive touchdowns. Tillman led the defense with eight tackles.
Sand Springs finishes fourth in the district for the regular season and will return to action Friday when they travel to District One Champion No. 5 Midwest City (7-3, 6-1) for the first round of the playoffs. The Spartans come in second in District Two and will host a game against No. 8 Putnam City West (7-3, 5-2).