Roughers Make Final Plays, Edge Spartans
10.1.16 by Ron Holt
MUSKOGEE - In a game packed with big plays, Muskogee's unbeaten and third-ranked Roughers made the final two deciding plays to hold off top-ranked Bixby, 45-42, in front of a large homecoming crowd at the Indian Bowl here Friday night.
It was the District 6AII-2 opener for the Spartans, now 2-3 on the season, while Muskogee improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the league.

Bixby repeatedly fought back against the speedy Roughers and captured a 42-37 lead with 1:26 remaining in the game after senior quarterback Tanner Griffin hit Cody Adams with a seven-yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion pass from Griffin to Nic Swanson failed.

Facing a third-and-17 on its next possession, Muskogee quarterback Jacob Medrano connected with D. J. Mayes for a 51-yard touchdown pass play with 55 seconds remaining and hit Devin Hillmon for a two-point conversion to give MHS a three-point lead.
Bixby put together a final drive until a long pass from Griffin to Swanson was deflected and caught by Hillmon as he was falling to the turf with 11 seconds showing.

"They made a bunch of big plays. That's a good team … they've got great skill guys," said Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery afterward. "They made more plays than we did … I'm disappointed that we had a lead and we didn't finish, we didn't close the game.
"And, we didn't make the plays when we had to and that's disappointing. But, hats off to those guys they made the plays when they had to and we didn't. We've got to figure out how to close games."

The first half summed up both teams' offensive approach. Bixby ran 49 plays in the first half. Muskogee ran 28. For the game, Bixby ran 90 plays and averaged 5.4 yards a play. Muskogee ran 59 plays, averaging 8.4 yards a play. Muskogee ended with 495 total yards while Bixby ended with 487.
"Ball control was the main thing we wanted to do but I had a few mistakes and we had other mistakes here and there. We've got to get better at controlling the ball," Spartan quarterback Tanner Griffin said. "I'm not sure their defense was better than we thought, I think it was just that we didn't execute. Hopefully, we'll get another chance at them in the playoffs."
Muskogee kicker Trent Dennis staked his team to an early 3-0 lead after booting a 21-yard field goal. Bixby answered with a four-yard TD pass from Griffin to Swanson for a 7-3 first quarter lead. But, Mendrano passed to Dionte Crutchfield for a 36-yard TD and a 10-7 Rougher lead at the 11:10 mark of the second quarter.
The Spartans put together a 79-yard, 16-play drive that consumed 6:03 off the clock for a 14-10 lead after Griffin hit Drake Allen with a three-yard TD pass with 5:06 left before halftime. It only took MHS three plays to travel 68 yards and retake the lead at 17-14 after Medrano and Kamren Curl combined on a 12-yard TD pass.
A bad snap over punter Cale Hutchens' head moments later gave Bixby excellent field position at the Rougher 20-yard-line with 44 seconds left. Three plays later, Griffin hit running back Tucker Pawley with a 23-yard touchdown and a 21-17 lead with 23 seconds left before intermission.

Both teams struggled getting untrack offensively in the third quarter, which was a battle of punts before Pawley burst through a hole in the line and out-ran Muskogee to the end zone from 32 yards away for a 28-17 BHS lead with 1:25 left in the third quarter.
Both teams erupted offensively in the fourth quarter, scoring a combined 42 points, 28 by the Roughers.
Lady luck shined on the Roughers, which scored 28 fourth quarter points, after Molijah Gilbert scored from a yard out to trim Bixby's lead to 28-23. Muskogee's Keondre Davis then sacked Griffin a few plays later, forcing a fumble.
MHS's Michael Buckhanan recovered and ran 44 yards to the goal line before Bixby's Ryan Kerr hustled to knock the ball loose from Buckhanan in the end zone. Rougher teammate Kaleel Smith, however, recovered for a touchdown and 30-28 MHS lead.
"You get those kind of plays here … it's just the way it goes," said BHS coach Montgomery.
Bixby regrouped and drove 65 yards in four plays, capped off by a 30-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Staten King, giving the Spartans a 36-30 lead with 8:27 left in the game.
The lead didn't last long as Lady Luck wore a green uniform again as a pass from Medrano was tipped by Bixby's Allen but the Roughers' Hillmon caught the ball and ran 74 yards to paydirt for a 37-36 MHS lead with 7:32 left in the game, sitting up the dramatic finish.

"They pretty much stayed with the game plan we thought they would use, we've just got to execute our game plan better," said Adams, a senior defensive lineman. "The effort was definitely there. It was just that we had to execute our game plans and we didn't.
"They are a good team. They got a few lucky plays and a couple of lucky calls. We'll get them when we see them in the playoffs. We've played some strong teams this season and had a lot of close games. We've just got to keep working and keep grinding when we go back to work Monday," Adams added.
Griffin passed for 309 yards and five touchdowns while being picked off twice. Medrano had 368 yards passing and four TDs. Pawley rushed for 132 yards on 28 carries and scored a TD. He also caught a TD pass. Swanson topped Bixby's receivers with eight grabs for 82 yards and a score.

TOUGH START - Bixby has been challenged every week this season by Jenks, Bentonville (Ark.) High, Putnam City, Westmoore and Muskogee. The teams have combined for a 22-4 record. Bixby's three losses have been by a combined total of 17 points.

NEXT GAME - Bixby returns home Friday, Oct. 7, when it hosts Sapulpa, which fell to 0-5 on the season after losing 45-0 at home against Tulsa Washington Friday. The Chieftains have lost to Duncan, at Choctaw, Tulsa Kelley, at Sand Springs and to Washington. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

NOTABLES - Bixby's junior kicker Jason Campbell was 4-for-4 on extra point tries at Muskogee Friday night. On the season, Campbell has cleanly booted 28-of-28 extra point attempts. … The Spartans had to overcome three district losses a year ago to reach the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, BHS played its best ball of the season. "We didn't want to go that route this year. We shouldn't be counted out. We've just got to get better," said Griffin. …Bixby missed a chance to score after Allen returned a punt 36 yards with an additional 15 yards being tacked on after the play for a face mask penalty against MHS.