Second Half Surge Lifts Tigers Past Spartans
9.9.17 by Ron Holt
An impressive start offensively and defensively allowed Bixby's Spartans to enter the halftime
break clinging to a 28-13 lead over powerful Bentonville, Ark., Friday night at Lee Snider
The second half, however, belonged to the visiting Tigers as they seized the momentum from
the outset in dominating Bixby in all phases en route to a 47-28 victory. Both teams are 1-1 on
"It surprised me that we weren't able to come out in the third quarter ready to play football …
we've got to find a way to fix that. We got out-coached and out-played," a disappointed
Spartan head coach Loren Montgomery said afterward.
"I guess if there is a positive it's that we can learn a lot from this game but there just wasn't
much good tonight."
Bixby was sharp and efficient on the game's first possession. The Spartans traveled 59 yards
in 15 plays, converting five third down plays in the process, before senior quarterback Staton
King hit wide receiver Eric Calton-Watkins for a 14-yard touchdown.
Coby Tillman took a direct snap and scored the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Spartan lead at
the 6:31 mark of the first quarter.
An athletic and acrobatic pass interception by sophomore Brennan Presley and return of 37
yards set up a 15-yard touchdown pass from King to Tillman with 11:19 left in the second
quarter. Reis Vernon's point-after kick gave the Spartans a 15-0 lead.
On Bentonville's next possession, the Tigers' Dwight Crawford fumbled after catching a pass
and Bixby's Clayton Barbour recovered at the visitors' 43-yard line.
Six plays later, King found Sam Sherman in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown. The
point-after was blocked but BHS led, 21-0, with 7:59 left in the second stanza.
A 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Bentonville's Preston Crawford and 33-yard TD
sprint by quarterback Nathan Lyons trimmed the deficit to 21-13 with 1:33 left in the opening
half. Lyons' run was set up by Kam'ron Mays-Hunt's 60-yard pass interception return to the
The interception of King came after two short-yard Bixby touchdowns were nullified by holding
Bixby impressively closed out the first half with a 67-yard, five-play drive that ended in senior
running back Tucker Pawley's four-yard TD run with 43 seconds left. Highlighting the drive was
a 46-yard pass play from King to Calton-Watkins.
Bentonville, which was ranked seventh in Class 7A in Arkansas, scored the first of five
unanswered touchdowns to open the third quarter by driving 77 yards in eight plays for a
10-yard TD pass play from Lyons to Mays-Hunt to narrow the gap at 28-20.
After King was sacked for a 15-yard loss on third down deep in Spartan territory, the Tigers
struck again as a punt attempt by Vernon was blocked by Jack Boettcher and recovered by
Bentonville in the end zone, trimming Bixby's lead to 28-26.
Bentonville methodically pulled away on its next two possessions as Mays-Hunt caught a
five-yard scoring pass from Lyons and Harrison Campbell got free behind the Spartan
secondary for a 61-yard TD reception and a 41-28 lead with 11:50 left in the game.
"Their pressure picked up more the second half and we just didn't handle it," said King, who
passed for 191 yards and three touchdowns. "For me, being a new quarterback, this is my first
loss and it hurts but I can learn from this to be ready to go next week.
"We knew we had to come out firing in the second half but we didn't get it done and they came
out firing. They're a really good team," he added.
The Tigers' ended their second half scoring barrage with 1:40 remaining on Easton Miller's
four-yard touchdown run.
"We just didn't execute the second half, it was all on us," said senior offensive/defensive
lineman Josh Owens. "We shot ourselves in the foot too much and we were ducking and
leaning too much. They were just playing ball and we were messing up.
"I thought we'd still make a little run late to get back in it but, obviously, we didn't. It's just one
game but it still hurts," he added.
NEXT GAME - Bixby plays its first road game Thursday, Sept. 14, against the Putnam City
Pirates at Putnam City Stadium, starting at 7 p.m. The Pirates are 2-0 after beating Putnam
City North (16-10) and El Reno (63-6). PC is led by Ron Tatum, a 6-4, 269-pound defensive
end, who has committed to Oklahoma. He's ranked No. 3 on the Daily Oklahoman's Super 30
list. "I know they have 18 or 19 guys back off last year's team and they have the big defensive
lineman who is committed to OU," Coach Montgomery said of the Pirates.
INJURED DUO - Bixby was without senior offensive lineman Bryce Bray, an Oklahoma State
commitment, and senior safety Cameron Stephens against Bentonville. "Bray has a foot injury
but I think he'll be back this week," Coach Montgomery said. "Not having him hurt us tonight.
Cameron has an elbow injury and was fitted for a brace so he should be okay."
NOTABLES - Bixby was victimized by 12 penalties for 100 yards. … King was the Spartans'
rushing leader with 82 yards on 17 attempts. … Bentonville, which had four turnovers, was
credited with 369 yards of total offense. Tiger QB Lyons contributed 303 total offensive yards -
247 passing with three TD's and 56 rushing and one TD. "We knew they would come out
strong and run the ball but I'm disappointed how we came out in the second half," said Bixby's
junior defensive back Cade Cavender. "We came out with a good feeling and came out like we
were up. We should have come out like it was 0-0. This is a good game to learn from. We
made some improvements from week one but we have a lot more to improve on."