If there were any questions about Ardmore’s mindset entering the playoffs Friday night, they were answered emphatically in the first half.

If there were any questions about Ardmore’s mindset entering the playoffs Friday night, they were answered emphatically in the first half.

Three touchdowns in the opening quarter sent the No. 5 Tigers on their way, as Ardmore (9-2) cruised to a convincing 41-14 victory over Guthrie in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs at Noble Stadium.

The win ensures the Tigers will be back at home at 7:30 p.m. Friday night, when the Noble Bears come to town for round two of the postseason.

Noble is fresh off an upset victory over Bishop Kelley 36-7 in Tulsa in its opening round game.

“I thought we started fast like Coach Holloway and the defensive staff has challenged these kids to do,” Ardmore coach Josh Newby said. “We paid attention to details and executed like we were supposed to out there.”

Sophomore Creed Cox played his part masterfully as he filled in under center for Tero Roberts, helping lead three offensive drives for touchdowns in the first quarter alone.

Ardmore needed just six plays to drive 70-yards on its opening possession, as Chantz Scurry ran four of them, leading to a touchdown for the senior from 16-yards out, putting the Tigers up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.

Guthrie’s offense looked as though it was going to have a quick response on its opening drive.

Blue Jays running back Gavin Brison carried much of the load, running five plays, but it was on a 2nd and 4 from inside the Tigers’ 30-yard line where it all went bad.

A bobbled snap led to a fumble, which Ardmore’s Malik Ritche pounced on at the 30-yard line, stopping the Blue Jays momentum.

The Tigers needed just three plays to make it 14-0, when Braeden Vance punched it in from two yards out. 

It was Vance’s initial run of 63-yards on the first play of the drive which eventually put the Tigers in striking distance to score at the seven yard line.

Guthrie eventually did respond on its second time with the ball, as Brison ran it in from 14-yards out to cut the Tigers lead to 14-7 with 4:49 left in the first quarter.

To say Ardmore’s coaching staff showed some guts on the next offensive possession would be an understatement.

After driving down to the Blue Jays 8-yard line, and facing a 4th and 4, the Tigers put the ball in the hands of Creed Cox.

Cox ran around to the left side, where he was met by multiple Blue Jays defenders.

However, just getting the first down wasn’t enough for the sophomore, as he pushed the pile into the end zone, giving the Tigers a 21-7 advantage with 2:10 left in the first quarter.

“This was just another game to me,” Cox said. “You know if you don’t come out and play hard then it’s over. I was just going to go with whatever the coaches wanted me to do on that fourth down. They had trust in me and they know I’ll do whatever I have to do to make something happen. Chantz Scurry, Braeden Vance and Eean Ross played their butts off tonight. We rallied around our seniors tonight and we knew we needed to do this for them.”

Guthrie was forced into a punt to begin the second quarter, as were the Tigers.

However, Ardmore was about to get a lifeline from an unlikely, but familiar source on defense.

With the Tigers defense forcing the Blue Jays into a 3rd and 14 from the Ardmore 34-yard line, a lob pass from GHS quarterback Jackson Waddell fell into the waiting hands of Vance, who dashed 70-yards for a pick six, giving the Tigers a 28-7 lead with less than seven minutes to go before halftime.

“I can’t say nothing but thank you to my teammates for encouraging me, and God for giving me the chance to play this game,” Vance said. “On the interception, I just read the coverage, and as soon as I saw it lobbed up, I knew that ball was mine.”

Cox gave the Tigers some breathing room with seven seconds to go before halftime, when he scored from one-yard out to make it 34-7.

The biggest play of the drive came when Cox found Shrodric McGee on a 21-yard pass with less than 30 seconds to go, which set up the Tigers at the 1-yard line.

In the third quarter, the Blue Jays got a consolation score courtesy of Brison as he found room and dashed 40-yards for the touchdown.

However the game was put on ice in the fourth when Joseph Clark ran it in from nine yards out.

Scurry finished the game with 18 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Eean Ross ran for 46 yards on seven carries for Ardmore, while Vance totaled 98 yards rushing on eight carries with a pair of touchdowns.