Bixby Pulls Away In Second Half Against Springdale
9.20.14 by Ron Holt
After struggling throughout the first half, Bixby's Spartans cleaned up their act in the final two quarters en route to a dominating 44-20 victory over Springdale, Ark., Friday night at Bixby's Lee Snider Stadium.

Bixby, now 2-1 on the season, was its own worst enemy at times in the first half. The Spartans turned the ball over twice and were flagged for costly penalties. Despite all the struggles, BHS led the Bulldogs 23-20 at intermission.

The Spartans came to life on both sides of the ball in the second half, outscoring Springdale, 21-0, to earn their second straight win. The Bulldogs' closest scoring opportunity ended in a fumble into the end zone that Bixby recovered midway through the final quarter.

"All we talked about at halftime was that it was a dogfight just like last year when were down there and got behind big-time at halftime. It became all about endurance and who was going to be the tougher team. That was a decision we had to make," said Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery.

"It was a messy first half. We were fortunate enough to punch it in a few times and keep grinding. That's the thing about football. There's always going to be adversity and it's about how you react. We've got to clean up our game and knock off some of that nonsense, like some of the penalties," Coach Montgomery added.

Bixby outgained the Bulldogs, 451 yards to 259, and outrushed the visitors, 283 yards to 15. Springdale held the upper hand in the passing game with 280 yards and two touchdowns but also had two passes intercepted.

Springdale, 0-3, continued its pattern of scoring first in all three of its games as the Bulldogs went on an 82-yard, nine-play drive that ended in a three-yard touchdown pass from Fuller Chandler to Salvador Sandoval on their second possession.

The early lead didn't last long as the Spartans' Nic Roller scored from 31 yards out and ran for the two-point conversion to give Bixby an 8-7 lead with 2:25 left in the first quarter.

Roller, who rushed for 150 yards on 20 carries, scored from two yards out at the 11:41 mark of the second quarter and Taylor Ruth kicked the extra point for a 15-7 lead.

Springdale led 17-15 before Bixby responded with an impressive drive that culminated in a 14-yard TD pass play from quarterback Tanner Griffin to Kyle Rhine. Roller ran for the two-point conversion to give BHS a 23-17 lead.

Springdale narrowed the halftime deficit to three points when John Bautista kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired.
"We've always been a second half team," said senior linebacker Casey Saied, who led the Spartans with five solo tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. "Our front seven is nasty we are one of the best front sevens in the state in my opinion. We took care of things in the back end and were able to shut them out in the second half."

The Spartans were focused from the outset of the second half, scoring on their first possession with Roller ran in from four yards out, staking the hosts to a 30-20 lead. Highlighting the drive was a 26-yard pass play from Griffin to Cade Cabbiness.

Griffin, who was 12-of-21 passing for 168 yards, and Cabbiness hooked up at the 7:06 mark of the third quarter on a 24-yard scoring play. Ruth's PAT kick made it 37-20. The Spartans' scoring ended on a nine-yard touchdown run by sophomore Ryan Matthews.

"I feel pretty good going into district," Coach Montgomery added. "I felt like we did some things better tonight. We were able to establish the run and protected Tanner pretty well. We threw and caught it better than we did last week.

"I'm proud of the boys and this should give us some confidence going into district," he said.

Bixby hosts Claremore in the district opener Friday, starting at 7 p.m. The Zebras dipped to 1-2 as they fell to Siloam Springs, Ark., 44-7, at home Friday night.

GAME NOTES: Bixby was penalized 12 times for 110 yards. Springdale was flagged nine times for 75 yards. Bixby's front seven stymied Springdale's run game as the Bulldogs rushed 30 times for only 15 yards. Cabbiness led the Spartans in pass receiving with five grabs for 67 yards and one touchdown. Rhine caught three balls for 56 yards and a TD. In his first extensive action Matthews rushed for 86 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown. Both teams suffered leg cramps during the humid night. The Spartans' ability to capitalize on its depth was pivotal.