Bixby Stuns Muskogee In Overtime, 48-41
10.31.15 by Ron Holt
MUSKOGEE - There's something about Muskogee's Indian Bowl. Something mysterious as far as Bixby High's Spartans are concerned.

Two years ago, Muskogee erupted for two late long-distance touchdowns to bring down the Spartans and their playoff aspirations.

Sixth-ranked Bixby experienced déjà vu near the end here Friday night before the Spartans contributed dramatic plays late in a stunning 48-41 overtime victory over the Roughers in a rain-soaked Class 6AII-District 1 game.

Bixby, 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the district, enhanced its playoff positioning with the win while Muskogee dipped to 3-6 and 3-3.

Seniors Nic Roller, Connor Walker and Cade Cabbiness turned in memorable performances in a game loaded with memorable efforts. In the end, Bixby made all the defining plays, which is a trademark of championship teams.

"I think it tested our character and hopefully we built a little confidence," Spartan Head Coach Loren Montgomery said. "The Indian Bowl is a tough place. I've never been down here when there haven't been crazy plays like we saw tonight.

"A fumble goes right to their guy and we have perfect coverage on a pass, deflect it and their guy catches it and goes the distance. It was just one thing after another."

Roller, who rushed for 329 yards on 44 carries, scored six touchdowns and his final score, a 55-yarder, appeared to seal the win for the Spartans who led 41-28 with 5:03 left in the game.

Three plays later, a pass from the Roughers' Quintahj Cherry to Tavian Davis was tipped by the Spartans before being corralled by Davis near the Muskogee 45-yard line. He outran Bixby's defense for a 90-yard touchdown as the hosts narrowed the deficit to 41-35 with 4:04 left in the game.

Muskogee's defense forced Bixby to punt the ball with 2:14 remaining as the Roughers put together a desperation drive that ended in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Cherry to Kamren Curl to tie the game 41-41 all with eight seconds left.

As the rain intensified, Muskogee's Brian Gallegos attempted to kick the game-winning extra point but the 6-3 Cabbiness found an opening in the Rougher line and blocked the kick as the Spartan sideline celebrated new life in overtime.

"We worked on it a couple of weeks ago, we hadn't forgotten about it. We tried it and it worked for us, we executed it perfectly," said Cabbiness, who caught five passes for 43 yards. "I jumped between the guard and center but it was pretty open.

"The game was on the line and we worked too hard this week to have it finish like that. It was a good win and gives us some momentum going into next week. It was a must win game for us," he added.

Roller ran seven yards to the Rougher one on third down in overtime before carrying the ball in on fourth down. Jason Campbell's conversion kick gave the Spartans a 48-41 lead.

"That play had been working for us all night and the line had been blocking it well," said Roller, who scored on runs of 26, 50, 2, 13 and 55 yards prior to the overtime TD. "When had the game plan that if we are inside the 10 we're going to run the ball that's what we do best. It was an ugly game and the rain made things tough but I'm glad we won."

Muskogee, which had nine penalties for 90 yards, hurt its own cause by been flagged for a personal foul which resulted in the Roughers getting the ball at Bixby's 25-yard line instead of the 10.

On the first play, Cherry lobbed a pass into the corner of the end zone but Walker wrestled the pigskin away from a Rougher receiver to seal the victory.

"I knew it was going to be a fade. We wrestled for it but I came out with it," said Walker, who finished with three pass interceptions, his first pass thefts this season. "I still feel like I'm in a dream. It's definitely a senior moment that you'll remember forever.

"That's probably the best defensive game I've played. It's actually the first game I've had an interception this year," he added. "We haven't played up to our expectations this season and I'm hoping this will give us the push we've needed to get us going."

Cherry, a senior, led Muskogee offensively as he passed for 212 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 113 yards on 18
carries and one score. Cherry finished with 325 yards of total offense.

But, it was the Spartans' ability to make the big plays that proved decisive.

"I thought Cabbiness' block on the extra point was tremendous and Connor's interception down here was great. That's a big one," Coach Montgomery said. "I thought our defense played extremely well in the second half once we settled down.

"Nic played extremely well when we needed it. I told Coach (Tyler) Schneider in overtime to get the ball to him. When you have good players you expect them to make big plays. We just outlasted them," he added.

Bixby ends district play at Sand Springs next Friday, starting at 7 p.m. Sand Springs (4-4, 4-2) fell to Tulsa Washington, 17-14, Friday night.

SPARTAN NOTES - Bixby finished with 539 yards of total offense, while the Roughers ended with 330. BHS turnovers led to Rougher touchdowns. The Spartans failed to cover a kickoff following MHS's first TD with the Roughers recovering and going on a touchdown drive for a 14-7 lead. The Roughers' Curl caught a fumble in the air and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown. Midway through the second quarter, Walker intercepted his first pass of the season in the end zone to thwart a Rougher drive, which had reached Bixby' nine-yard line. Late in the second quarter, Bixby junior center Pierce Hibblen suffered a leg injury and was helped off the field.
Gregg Shipman Photography