Spartans Dominate Pirates For First Victory
9.17.16 by Ron Holt
Dominating performances on both sides of the ball lifted Bixby's top-ranked Spartans to a 56-20 victory over Putnam City Friday night in front of a large Lee Snider Stadium crowd on Military Appreciate Night.
It was the first win of the season following an 0-2 start for Bixby while third-ranked Putnam City dropped to 2-1.
Offensively, Bixby was equally explosive in the running game and the passing game as the Spartans finished with 592 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Tanner Griffin, senior wide receiver Nic Swanson and junior running back Tucker Pawley each had impressive outings.
Griffin threw four touchdown passes while finishing with 298 yards passing. Swanson had a career-high 17 catches for 224 yards and scored three touchdowns. Pawley was credited with 160 yards on 29 carries and scored four first-half touchdowns.
Obviously, the Spartans' offensive line needs to take a collective bow and be applauded for their efforts in the offense's success.
Bixby went 75 yards in 14 plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead after a 10-yard TD run by Pawley and Jason Campbell's conversion kick at the 7:09 mark of the first quarter.
The Spartans received excellent field position on their next possession, taking three plays to cover 38 yards and make it a 14-0 lead after Pawley pushed across from three yards out and Campbell added the conversion.
Putnam City struggled offensively most of the night but the Pirates found success with big plays. Damon Jeminson scored on a 61-yard pass play from Amareion Newsome near the end of the first quarter to trim the BHS lead to 14-7.
Later in the first half, Pawley scored on runs of three and four yards and Swanson scored after catching a 15-yard pass from Griffin to give the Spartans a 35-7 intermission lead.
Problems within the kicking game surfaced again opening the third quarter as Putnam City's Keair Wilkins returned the second half kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, making it a 35-14 game.
"We've got to get our kickoff team cleaned up," Coach Montgomery said. "We can't beat a good team when we constantly give up good field position."
Bixby's aerial attack helped regain the momentum as Swanson grabbed a 28-yard touchdown pass from Griffin and Clayton Barbour scored on a six-yard pass from Griffin for a 49-14 Spartan lead.
Putnam City again went the long distance route to reach paydirt as Jeminson caught a 62-yard TD pass from Newsome with 2:34 showing in the third quarter.
Bixby ended the scoring early in the fourth quarter as Griffin rifled a pass to Swanson, who made an impressive move to separate from the nearest defender to complete a 44-yard touchdown pass play with 10:49 left in the game.
"Yea, it's hard to believe," Swanson said when informed of his receiving statistics. "I'm just trying to make plays and score touchdowns to help the team. I'm pushing myself to get better every week I'm working to make myself a next level guy."
On Swanson's impressive start this season, Bixby's head coach Loren Montgomery said, "He's just really bloomed. He had a great offseason and worked hard in the weight room. Coach Wozniak (Mark) said last week that Nic played about as complete of a game as he's had from a wide receiver since he's been here. You're talking about some good receivers. He's a good blocker, too."
Pawley credits practice and film study for the running game being able to punish the Pirates with 298 rushing yards on 57 attempts.
"I did a lot of film study this week about how they blitz three people or more on every play and thought I could find a gap all day," Pawley said. "I'm trying to get better every game. It really gave me a boost knowing what our whole offense can do I think it's a boost for the whole team."
Defensively, the coaches won't be happy with the way Putnam City got free for a couple of lengthy scoring pass plays. But, a look at the final statistics should make things easier to digest.
Bixby's defense limited the Pirates to 181 yards passing on 10-of-29 completions and only allowed six yards rushing on 13 attempts. The Pirates ended with 187 yards of total offense and 10 first downs. In addition, Bixby defenders intercepted four passes, two by sophomore Cade Cavender
"We got turned around a few times but for the most part I felt good about our defense," said Coach Montgomery. "It didn't seem like they were able to run the ball. On the first long wheel route out of the backfield it was good call on their part. We had a blitz called which makes it extremely tough to cover."
Newcomer Ethan Hall, a 6-3, 200-pound sophomore linebacker, continues to make his presence felt during his first year in Bixby's program. He broke up a couple of passes and knocked the ball loose form the Pirates' Newsome into the waiting arms of teammate Cody Adams.
"I moved here from Edmond Santa Fe this year. I knew a little about the program but I didn't really know anybody except Coby Tillman," said Hall. "It's been an adjustment for me but I'm just trying to get better every week.
"We just wanted to go in there and do what we did and stay focused. We knew their quarterback was good and we knew we needed to keep him contained. I feel this is my best game so far," he added.
Coach Montgomery is pleased with Hall's improvement. "He's a good player and is improving a little more every week. He's a phenomenal football player who is long and rangy."

NEXT GAME: Bixby hosts Westmoore, starting at 7 p.m. Friday night at Lee Snider Stadium. The game will be BHS's Football Homecoming. Westmoore, which competes in Class 6A-I, is 3-0 on the season after defeating Moore (51-41), Southmoore (34-28 in two OTs) and Edmond North (21-7).

NOTES: Griffin, a three-year starting quarterback for BHS, went over the 7,000-yard mark for his career and also has more than 500 career completions. After three games, Swanson has caught 33 passes for 428 yards and five touchdowns. He's averaging 12.9 yards per catch and 107 yards per game. Bixby was plagued by penalties Friday night, finishing with 12 penalties for 130 yards. On the season, the Spartans have been flagged 33 times for 280 yards. The good news is that opponents have been flagged 32 times for 300 yards. Junior DB Colton Tafoya intercepted a Pirate pass early in the fourth quarter.
Photos by Gregg Shipman