Defense Sets Tempo In Bixby's 38-23 District Win
10.2.17 by Ron Holt
From an offensive standpoint, Bixby High turned in a crisp, balanced performance last Friday night in the Class 6A-II, District 2 opener against Muskogee in front of a large Homecoming crowd at BHS's Lee Snider Stadium.
The play-making Spartans amassed 562 yards of total offense, averaged 9.7 yards per play and finished with zero turnovers.

But, it was Bixby's full speed ahead defensive approach which set the early tempo with their backs to the wall and forced three turnovers as the Spartans snapped a three-game losing streak in a 38-23 victory over the speedy Roughers.

Muskogee, 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the district, stunned Bixby (2-3, 1-0) as the Roughers' Jimmie Coleman returned the opening kickoff 96 yards before being tripped up at Bixby's two.
Two one-yard rushing plays, sandwiched around a five-yard penalty, left MHS facing third-and-goal at the six when quarterback Jacob Medrano's deflected pass to Coleman was picked off the turf for an interception by Bixby's Colton Tafoya.

"Our coaches always told us to never give up until the final whistle and that's what we did in this game. We didn't stop until we had the win," said Tafoya, who also was credited with forcing a late fumble. "Down at the two, our coaches told us to keep our foot on the pedal and not let up and that's what we did.

"I saw the ball hit off his knee and go into the air and all I thought of was jumping in there and catching the ball. It's a win we needed to stop our losing streak," added Tafoya, who ended with five solo stops.
Propelled by the defensive effort, Bixby went on the offensive as senior quarterback Staton King hit sophomore Brennan Presley for 69 yards on the first play. The four-play drive ended on a nine-yard touchdown pass from King to Presley for a 7-0 lead.

"That stop by the defense was big time. It lifted everybody," said King, who passed for 303 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-25 passing. "The offense wanted to do our part. I felt good the first half but in the second half I missed a few passes but got it going again and we started running the ball well which helped.
"Our game plans are always on point I trust Coach Schneider (Tyler) with anything. Getting a good start in the district was big for us. We talked about forgetting about the past and get going in the district and that's what we did," he added.

After a 27-yard field goal by Muskogee made it a 7-3 game, Bixby sophomore running back Braden Roller found an opening in the line and out-ran the Roughers to complete a one play, 70-yard touchdown run. Reis Vernon's point-after kick gave BHS a 14-3 lead.
It was the start of an outstanding night for the speedy, hard-running Roller, who finished with 259 yards rushing on 28 carries and two touchdowns.
After Muskogee lost 11 yards on a botched punt attempt, the Spartans converted a short drive into a 19-yard TD pass play from King to Presley for a 21-3 lead with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Roughers didn't stay down long as Medrano connected on touchdown passes of five yards and 86 yards to Diante Crutchfield to keep the Roughers within striking distance at 21-17.
Bixby answered on a 10-yard touchdown run by Roller and Vernon's 30-yard field goal as time expired to lead 31-17 at intermission.

Field goals of 21 and 37 yards by the Roughers' Manuel Espinoza got MHS within 31-23 with 6:19 left in the game before the Spartans went on an impressive late drive which culminated in a two-yard rush by Coby Tillman with 4:39 remaining. Tillman was met at the one but bulled his way into the end zone with assistance from teammates.
Muskogee's last drive ended when Tafoya forced a fumble on a completed pass and teammate Colyn Farley recovered at Bixby's 39-yard line.

The Rougher offense kept pressure on Bixby's defenders throughout, finishing with 544 total offensive yards - 433 passing. Medrano completed 31-of-44 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns while being intercepted once.
Crutchfield ended with eight catches for 188 yards and two TDs, while Quintevin Cherry caught 12 passes for 121 yards.

"What we were trying to do on defense was keep them from going over the top of us we wanted to give the corners some help. They got a lot of yards and a lot on underneath plays," said Spartan head coach Loren Montgomery.

"That was our game plan. If they were going to beat us they were going to be us running the ball. We didn't have any turnovers, which was huge and I thought we did a good job playing without Tucker (Pawley), Ethan Hall and Bryce Hendrix. To have those three out and still do the job was great," he added.

NEXT GAME: Bixby travels to Sapulpa Friday, Oct. 6. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Sapulpa fell to 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the league after being routed by Tulsa Washington, 63-0 Friday. This season, Sapulpa lost to Duncan (28-12), Choctaw (27-21), Tulsa Kelley (38-3), Sand Springs (31-16) and Booker T. Washington.

PEDAL TO THE METAL - Vernon's 31-yard field goal to end the first half was set up by a Rougher fumble that was recovered by junior defensive lineman Trevor Gavin. "It felt great getting the fumble getting the ball back to the offense is what we want to do," Gavin said. "We talked about stepping on the gas with no braking. I think we came out to show how we could play as a defense."

NOTABLES - After being shut out last week, Bixby senior wide receiver/defensive back Zach Riddle finished with three crucial receptions for 47 yards against MHS. "It wasn't a plan for me to get the ball but the ball just came my way and I took advantage of it," said Riddle, who has snared 11 passes for 136 yards this season. "We took advantage of the opportunities presented us tonight. We had no doubts because we prepared a lot harder than we had in the past and it paid off on the field." In other district games, Ponca City edged Bartlesville, 14-12, and Sand Springs edged Yukon, 26-21.