ADA – If one was to judge the Ardmore Tigers season opener solely based on the second half Friday night, it wouldn’t be the smartest decision.

ADA – If one was to judge the Ardmore Tigers season opener solely based on the second half Friday night, it wouldn’t be the smartest decision.

Ardmore used a smothering defense along with a balanced rushing attack to overwhelm the Ada Cougars, beating them for the eighth straight season, 37-14 at Norris Field. 

The victory was also the third straight year the Tigers have opened the season with a victory under coach Josh Newby.

Friday night the Tigers will make their 2017 home debut against the Durant Lions with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. from Noble Stadium.

“One thing we have tried to build this program on is toughness at the line of scrimmage,” Newby said. “Our staff does a great job of preparing these kids, and they showed that night. It was good to get the first game jitters out of the way and focus on getting our techniques and little things right and established.”

After entering the halftime interval with a 34-0 advantage, the Tigers looked to be in cruise control late in the third quarter when Raphael Interiano nailed a 39-yard field goal to put Ardmore up 37-0 with just over five minutes to go in the third.

But the worst parts of Ardmore’s otherwise stellar performance were yet to come.

First, the Cougars finally broke down a stubborn Tigers’ defense with a four play, 73-yard drive, which was capped off by a three-yard touchdown run from Tanner Gilliam to make it 37-7 after the extra point with less than four minutes to go in the third.

Then, just as it looked like Ardmore was going to respond with another scoring drive of its own, a botched pitch and run play resulted in a fumble which was scooped up by Jackson McFarlane and returned 65-yards for another Cougars touchdown, putting them at 37-14 with 1:44 left in the third.

It nearly got worse for Ardmore on the ensuing kickoff, nearly.

A fumble on the return appeared to be recovered by the Cougars on the initial signal from the officials on the far side. However, after a brief conference the ball was pointed the other way and the Tigers were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

“I wasn’t proud of our response in the second half to be honest,” Newby said. “We’ve prepared the kids and told them at halftime they needed to be tough enough to finish the game off. But, this is something we can learn from and grow from during the season.”

For all the bad that happened in the second half, there was more than enough good which occurred in the first to overshadow it.

On the first possession of the game, Ardmore drove down the field beginning at its own 33-yard line, and needed just nine plays before Chantz Scurry found the end zone from seven yards out. A missed extra point put the Tigers up 6-0 with 4:03 left in the first.

Tero Roberts got the second quarter off to a flying start for the Tigers, capping off another successful drive with his first touchdown of the season, a three yard scamper to make it 13-0 following the extra point.

After the Tigers defense stuffed the Cougars for a third straight drive, Ardmore scored for the third straight offensive possession. This time it was Cameron Petties getting on the board as he pushed his way in from four yards out for the score. The extra point made it a 20-0 Tigers lead with 5:48 remaining before halftime.

On the Cougars next drive, the Tigers got a gift courtesy of Michael Bruner. He intercepted a pass over the middle from McFarlane on a 1st and 20 from the Ada 36-yard line and returned it 25-yards to set up Ardmore in prime field position.

Bruner’s offensive teammates would take advantage of his generosity three plays later when Eean Ross got his first touchdown of the season from three yards out to make it 27-0 with 3:03 remaining in the first half.

Ada turned the ball over again on its next possession, as the Tigers forced a fumble and recovered it on the Cougars 11-yard line. This time just two plays were needed as Scurry got his second touchdown of the game with a four-yard score to finish off a solid first half for Ardmore.

Ardmore’s offense didn’t pass the ball in the entire game against the Cougars; instead it chose to carve up the field to the tune of 452 yards on 61 total carries. Eean Ross was the leading rusher on the night for the Tigers with 13 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. 

Chantz Scurry finished with 11 carries for 59 yards with two touchdowns.