Spartans Overcome Miscues, Beat Wildcats 43-21
10.10.15 by Ron Holt
PONCA CITY - Distractions. Star senior running back Nic Roller carrying the ball once. Penalties by the boat load. And, the pesky Ponca City Wildcats.

Bixby High overcame all of the above here Friday night as the Spartans used a 29-7 halftime advantage as the springboard for a 43-21 victory over the Wildcats in a lengthy District 6AII-2 battle at Sullins Stadium.

The Spartans improved to 2-1 in district play and 4-2 overall while the Wildcats fell to 1-4 and 0-3 in the district.
Playing short-handed because of injuries and suspensions, Bixby's Roller, who burst for 22 yards on his lone rush, was added to the list after suffering a shoulder injury. He didn't return.

Bixby finished with 20 penalties for 155 yards and turned the ball over four times - three on pass interceptions and one lost fumble.

The Spartans relied on 535 yards of total offense and a stingy defensive effort to get back on the winning path. But, everyone on Bixby's sideline understands the need for improvement if the Spartans are to realize season goals.

"We're playing undisciplined right now. We're turning the football over and making silly penalties," a disappointed Bixby Head Coach Loren Montgomery said afterward. "We've talked about that every single week but at some point we have to focus on what we're doing and make those corrections.

"We've got a ton of corrections we have to make we've got to play cleaner to get where we want to go," he added.
Spartan players agreed with the head coach.

"We got off to a good start but we kind of let off the gas pedal a little and let them back into the game. But, for the most part I felt like we played good with the all the distractions going on," said 6-1, 201-pound senior defensive back/wide receiver Breydon Daniel.

"We'll watch film tomorrow and start getting the little things cleaned up," added Daniel, who had a solid defensive performance and contributed a 39-yard touchdown pass reception from quarterback Tanner Griffin in the first quarter.

Brandon Evers, a 6-3, 287-pound junior lineman, said, "There's a lot of stuff we need to clean up like offsides and that's me included. There are some coverages and stunts we need to clean up to become a better team. Our ultimate goal is to win another gold ball. We will go in Saturday morning and work on getting better."

Evers harassed Wildcat senior quarterback Conner Larson all evening, finishing with three and one-half sacks. "I thought we could put pressure on them. I thought up front we were more physical than their offensive line. That was our plan," he said.

Despite the interceptions, Bixby succeeded throwing the ball. Griffin, a junior, hit on 21-of-30 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns.

Besides the first touchdown to Daniel, Griffin tossed touchdown passes to wide open targets - Jarrod Neerman for 29 yards and Conner Walker for 18 yards. He also lofted a perfect pass in the corner of the end zone to senior Cade Cabbiness for a seven-yard touchdown, Bixby's final points of the game.

Cabbiness was dominating as he finished with 10 grabs for 143 yards and one score. Walker contributed five receptions for 46 yards and a TD.

After Roller was sidelined, 6-0, 191-pound sophomore Tucker Pawley entered the game and finished with an impressive, productive performance.

The speedy Pawley, who had 148 yards rushing at halftime, finished with 206 yards on 25 carries and got the Spartans on the board with a 15-yard burst up the middle with 9:53 left in the first quarter.

"I came into this game ready to play offense and defense and to back up Nic Roller," said Pawley, who also had two pass receptions for 14 yards. "I was ready to run the rock whenever needed but I didn't know I'd be running it that much tonight. I did get tired.

"I was playing safety all night. I felt like I had to step up. We have a lot of bad stuff going on so I just wanted to do something positive."

Coach Montgomery also praised Pawley's play. "Tucker is a good running back. He's fast and hits the hole hard. And he played every snap at safety because we were short of people. That's just how it goes in high school football."
Darrell Arita and Larson were the offensive leaders for Ponca City. Arita scored on a one-yard run and caught a 57-yard TD pass from Larson. Larson scored from two yards out in the final two minutes.

SPARTAN NOTEBOOK - Bixby returns to Lee Snider Stadium Thursday to host district rival Sapulpa. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Sapulpa lost to Sand Springs, 44-10, Friday night. In other district games, Bartlesville rallied past Muskogee, 48-27, and Tulsa Washington routed Claremore, 47-0. Sophomore Coby Tillman scored from a yard out to end Bixby's first half scoring outburst. Bixby rushed for 261 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per rush. "Our offensive line is continuing to improve," Coach Montgomery said. "I think this is only the second time all season we've had the same starting lineup in our offensive line. They're getting better every day."
Gregg Shipman Photography