Bixby's Eruption Stuns Lawton, 36-6
11.16.15 by Ron Holt
LAWTON - Through three quarters here Saturday afternoon at Cameron Stadium, points were at a premium for Bixby's Spartans and Lawton's Wolverines in a Class 6AII State Quarterfinal battle.

Bixby used a 10-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion run by senior Nic Roller to lead the rematch of last year's Class 6AII State Championship game, 8-6, entering the fourth quarter.

Sparked by a dominating defense, opportunistic offense and special teams that made significant contributions, the Spartans erupted for 28 fourth quarter points in stunning second ranked Lawton, 36-6, to advance to this weekend's state semifinals.

Bixby, 7-4, will meet Bartlesville in a District 6AII-1 rematch at 1 p.m. Saturday at Owasso. Third-ranked Bartlesville defeated the Spartans, 50-33, earlier.

Defense was the story as the Spartans limited the explosive Wolverines to 141 yards of total offense. Lawton averaged 2.9 yards per play on its 49 total plays and turned the ball over three times.

"The defense played great. I'm so proud of the way we played and that we were physical up front since Lawton is a physical team," said Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery. "The defense was unbelievable.

"We've got some really good players but we just had to put it together. We have a lot of improvement to make between this week and next. Hopefully by the end of this thing we'll be back to playing well. We'll be in the right frame of mind this week."

Lawton, which averaged 36 points a game entering the playoffs, scored on a 62-yard pass play from junior quarterback Zach Hanna to Jair Thomas with 3:01 left in the third quarter but failed on a two-point conversion pass to trim Bixby's lead to 8-6. That was the only time the Wolverines seriously threatened.

"We felt like we had to prove something because people were saying we weren't going to win and that we limped into the playoffs," said Spartan junior defensive lineman Brendon Evers. "Defense wins football games and that's what we did. We came out and played with great intensity."

Senior defensive back/wide receiver Breydon Daniel added, "We had a good second half against Sand Springs in our last game so we had some momentum coming into this game. We had been playing well and this will carry on throughout the playoffs.

"This win is a big motivation boost and shows us that we are as good as we thought we were. We limited them to one play and then shut them down. I want to do all I can to help us end the season with a win," Daniel added.

Special teams provided the initial fourth quarter spark as junior quarterback/punter Tanner Griffin hit a 53-yard punt that rolled dead on Lawton's one-yard line.

On LHS's first play, Hanna fumbled and sophomore linebacker Coby Tillman recovered in the end zone for a Bixby touchdown. Jason Campbell's point-after kick gave BHS a 15-6 lead at the 11:42 mark of the third quarter.

"We knew we could shut them down," Tillman said. "We came in with a good attitude. Everyone had to be on the same play and do their job. I think everyone will be more focused as we get a little deeper into the playoffs."

After stopping Lawton on its next possession, junior safety Drake Allen returned a punt 36 yards and the Wolverines received a 15-yard face mask penalty on the play, giving BHS the ball at LHS's 19-yard line.

A 15-yard pass play from Griffin to Daniel moved the ball to Lawton's one where Roller, who rushed for 143 yards on 40 attempts, scored. Campbell's conversion kick increased Bixby's lead to 22-6.

In a game featuring numerous outstanding individual performances, none was more impressive than Allen. Later in the fourth quarter he returned another punt for a touchdown but had it called back because of a holding penalty. He ended Lawton's final possession with an interception. He also recovered a first quarter fumble by LHS.

"We put in a new punt return this week and it worked real well. We put more of our athletic guys on the field and they got it blocked up really well. All I had to do was take off and find some open field," said a smiling Allen afterward.

"I feel like there were a lot of plays that could have broken the game open. I was just trying to do my part and help the team any way possible. It just happened to come on the punt. I would call this my best game," Allen added.

"Drake was phenomenal on the kick returns. And, he also had a pass interception late," Coach Montgomery noted.

Bixby put the game away through the air as Griffin and senior Cade Cabbiness combined for a 20-yard touchdown pass play with 5:57 left and connected on a 12-yard pass play with 27 seconds remaining.

"The first half was a little fuzzy and I wasn't on the same page with my guys," said Griffin, who had four pass interceptions in the first half before responding with a solid second half showing. "In the second half we came together and knew what we had to do.

"That punt to the one was good motivation for me. It got me going. This just kind of reassures our team that we have what it takes since that was the No. 1 team in the other district," added Griffin, who passed for 181 yards on 20-of-33 passing and rushed for 39 yards on seven tries.

"Offensively, we had some big conversions. Cabby (Cabbiness) had a couple of big receptions to keep drives alive," Coach Montgomery said. "We got down in the red zone a couple of times but didn't take advantage when we could have broken it open earlier. But, I was proud of the way the guys controlled the ball."

SPARTAN NOTES - Losing the regular season finale and losing four games this season didn't affect the Spartans' preparation for Lawton. "We had a great week of practice this week. I feel like this was the most prepared we've ever been," said senior left guard Pryce Stickney. "I'm pretty sure this is a turning point in our season and we're just going to keep rolling. We'll be ready to take on Bartlesville next week." …Cabbiness had a productive performance, finishing with 11 grabs for 125 yards and two touchdowns, He had key catches on a third down and fourth down plays to keep a lengthy drive alive in the third quarter. …The Class 6AII state semifinals features all District 6AII-1 teams, each winning quarterfinal games in dominating fashion. Sand Springs won at Stillwater, 49-14; Tulsa Washington romped past Choctaw, 47-17, and Bartlesville thumped Midwest City, 35-14. Sand Springs and Tulsa Washington have a rematch in the other semifinal game.
Gregg Shipman Photography