Washington Out-Executes Spartans
10.24.15 by Ron Holt
There was nothing Tulsa Washington threw a fourth-rankedt Bixby High that the Spartans hadn't seen before on film.

But near flawless execution by Washington's speedy Hornets proved to be the difference as the Spartans were handed a 52-7 Class 6AII District 1 defeat at Lee Snider Stadium Friday night.

The Senior Night setback dropped Bixby's season record to 5-3 and the district mark to 3-2, while the top-ranked Hornets improved to 7-0 and 5-0.

"They did exactly what we prepared for, they just executed real well," said Bixby Head Coach Loren Montgomery afterward.

"That's a good football team, a real good football team. They executed better than we did."

Spartan quarterback Tanner Griffin and senior defensive lineman Grady Hanifin agreed with their coach.

"They didn't show anything that we hadn't seen," a disappointed Griffin said. "We practiced on it all week. We just didn't execute or make plays. It's tough to overcome but this better be our wake-up call."

Hanifin added, "They executed and had their good plays and they fed off that execution. We fought to the end … it was just a matter of execution."

Bixby was motivated at the start as the Spartans took the opening kickoff and drove to the Hornets' 12 before being turned back on downs.

Washington went 3-and-out on its first possession while the Spartans drove to the Washington 23 before Nic Roller fumbled after a three-yard run and the Hornets' Tariq Bitson recovered at the BTW 20. Two trips deep into Hornet territory failed to produce points.

From that point on, Washington took control. "It was a big deal when we drove the ball down but didn't score. We needed to get points on the board and weren't able to do that," Coach Montgomery said. "That allowed them to become more aggressive and then they made the big plays and we got behind the eight ball."

After the fumble, the Hornets used one play to score as quarterback Dakarai Willis sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 3:37 left in the first quarter.

Washington kicker Zachary Haney booted a 34-yard field goal early in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead and when Bixby went 3-and-out on its next possession the Hornets' Justice Hill scored from 49 yards out on a another one-play drive, giving the visitors a 17-0 lead with 8:04 left before halftime.

Marlon Stuart intercepted Griffin at the two-yard-line to thwart another Spartan drive late in the first half. On the ensuing play, Hill bolted 98 yards for another touchdown and a 24-0 Hornet lead with 4:11 left.

Hill scored from a yard out with 20 seconds left to give the Hornets a 31-0 intermission lead.

Willis sprinted up the middle 36 yards for a touchdown and a 38-0 lead at the 9:25 mark of the third quarter before Bixby got untracked with 3:20 left in the third stanza as Roller ended an eight-play, 58-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown.

Washington wrapped up the win after a nine-yard TD run by Hill and a six-yard pass interception return for a score by Prentice Whittaker.

The Hornets finished with 454 yards of total offense, led by a 382-yard rushing attack. Hill and Willis were a deadly duo as Hill rushed for 187 yards on 16 carries and four touchdowns. Willis rushed for 184 yards on 12 attempts and scored twice.

Griffin and senior wide receiver Cade Cabbiness were the offensive leaders for Bixby. Griffin passed for 217 yards on 14-of-33 attempts while being picked off twice. Cabbiness caught six balls for 104 yards. Roller contributed 65 yards on 23 carries.

Bixby closes the regular season on the road for the final two games. The Spartans' margin of error has diminished.

"Without a doubt, our back is against the wall. We've got to win and we've got to go on the road to get it done," added Coach Montgomery. "I think our kids will put this behind them, they are a mature football team and they've played a lot of games.

"I told them there is a lot of football left to play and I refuse to believe that we don't have the talent to win the gold ball. I really believe that we can win the gold ball. They need to believe it and come together as a team. There's a lot of things happening in the next two weeks."

SPARTAN NOTEBOOK - Bixby plays Friday, Oct. 30, at Muskogee, starting at 7 p.m. The Roughers lost at Sand Springs, 34-10, Friday. In other district games, Bartlesville routed Sapulpa, 56-21, and Ponca City turned back Claremore, 29-24. Bixby is in must-win situation at Muskogee. "When you face adversity you can either lay down or keep on fighting." Hanifin said. "We just need to get back after it and keep on practicing hard and hopefully we can play for the gold ball again. It will be hard to get over but we've got to keep working hard and believing." Griffin added, "We've just got to have a good week of practice. We have been thinking playoffs all along but we're at a point where we can't do anything wrong." … In the first half, Washington scored three touchdowns on three one-play drives that took a combined 38 seconds…. Bixby had four turnovers - two interceptions and two fumbles lost - while the Hornets played error-free.
Gregg Shipman Photography