Strong Second Half Sparks Spartans
10.16.15 by Ron Holt
Bixby High needed a spark late in the first half here Friday night as the Spartans struggled against Class 6AII-District 1 rival Sapulpa at Lee Snider Field.

A pair of senior standouts - wide receiver Cade Cabbiness and running back Nic Roller - provided that spark and ignited a strong second half performance as Bixby rolled past Sapulpa, 53-17.

Fourth-ranked Bixby raised its season record to 5-2 and improved to 3-1 in district play. Sapulpa, under first-year head coach Jake Corbin, dropped to 1-5 on the season and to 0-4 in league play.

"We talked at halftime about being a different team in the second half and for the most part we were they didn't make any yards on our defense. They buckled down," Bixby Head Coach Loren Montgomery said. "Offensively, we consistently moved the ball and moved the chains. I was proud of the way the guys executed."

Touchdown runs of four and five yards by sophomore running back Tucker Pawley and a 30-yard field goal by Jason Campbell lifted the Spartans to a 19-0 lead early in the second half.

The momentum, however, changed after the Spartans lost three fumbles and the gifts were turned into points by the recharged Chieftains.

Senior Dae Williams burst up the middle on fourth-and-two to score from 50 yards out and Bixby's second fumble was turned into a 39-yard field goal by Paige McCracken to narrow the gap at 19-10.

When Williams scored on a 22-yard TD run with 4:33 left until halftime the Chieftains had trimmed the Spartan lead to 19-17.
Two plays later the momentum returned to the Spartan sideline. Quarterback Tanner Griffin connected with Cabbiness on a short pass play and Cabbiness did the rest, scoring on a tackle-breaking 81-yard play to lift Bixby to a 26-17 lead at intermission.

"I was telling coach that I wanted the ball in my hands and I wanted to make a play and get us back in the game," said Cabbiness, who caught five passes for 130 yards and one score.

"That's not how we play, we were disappointed in how we played early. We went in at half and made adjustments and came out and had a really good second half," he added.

On the fourth play of the third quarter, Roller broke through a gaping hole and, despite not being full speed, outran the Chieftains for a 74-yard touchdown to give BHS a 32-17 lead with 10:36 left.

Roller started the game on the sideline because of injuries but entered the game with less than eight minutes left in the second quarter.

He added a two-yard touchdown run at the 2:42 mark of the third quarter to stake the Spartans to a 39-17 lead.
"Coach Montgomery said I would suit up and they would see if they needed me. The plan was for me not to go in," said Roller, who rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 11 attempts. "Once I finally got the adrenalin going and got back on the field I felt fine.

"I've been sore before but I've never actually had an injury so this is kind of new for me, not being able to be on the field. I've just been doing a lot of rehab.

Griffin, who passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-31 attempts, hit senior receiver Connor Walker for a 39-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter as BHS pulled away.

"It was a post route. Tanner and I connected on it and it kind of put the nail in their coffin," said Walker, a starting cornerback and receiver, who finished with eight catches for 116 yards and a TD.

"You've just got to make the plays when you can and we just take what they are going to give us. They are a better team than last year but we knew we could win. We just shot ourselves in the foot at times the first half."

Senior Breydon Daniel returned a pass interception 53 yards for Bixby's final touchdown to cap off the impressive second half defensive effort.

"It was good to get Nic back in the lineup so he could get confidence back in his body and I think he does after this game," Coach Montgomery said. "He gained confidence as he went on. This is the first time Nic has ever been hurt so this is all new for him.

"We got a lot of mileage out of our receiver screen. Coach Schneider (Tyler), our offensive coordinator, did a good job manipulating plays and manipulating motions in order to get the looks we needed."

SPARTAN NOTEBOOK - Bixby remains home this Friday to play Tulsa Washington starting at 7 p.m. at Lee Snider Stadium. Washington, which played unbeaten Bartlesville last Friday night, was the top-ranked team in the state in Class 6AII. "We've got a big one next week. I think we'll be ready to go," Coach Montgomery noted. Bixby finished with 528 yards of total offense. Sapulpa ended with 220 yards, led by Williams' 166 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries. BHS played without junior offensive lineman Pierce Hibblen, who injured an ankle in practice last week.
Gregg Shipman Photography