The numbers wouldn’t suggest Ardmore was in trouble on Friday, but Duncan’s first-half performance was too much to overcome for the Tigers.

The numbers wouldn’t suggest Ardmore was in trouble on Friday, but Duncan’s first-half performance was too much to overcome for the Tigers.

Despite outgaining Duncan 425-257, Ardmore couldn’t rally from a 23-7 halftime deficit, as the Tigers lost to the Demons 23-20. The win all but ensures Duncan (6-3, 5-1) the No. 2 seed in District 5A-2 while Ardmore (5-4, 4-2) gets the No. 3 spot and a road rematch with Carl Albert in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.

“We had poor execution offensively and they were ready to play,” Ardmore coach Douglas Wendel said. “The thought is disappointing because we’re not going to have a home playoff game, but the coaches and players are looking forward to getting the chance to face any of the three we lost to (earlier in the season). Right now we’ve gotta regroup and get ready for Senior Night.”

After digging a hole in the first two quarters of play, Ardmore dominated the second half, forcing Duncan to punt five times in five possessions. But the Demons’ defense held on in the final nine minutes.

Trailing 23-20 after a 9-yard Ashdon Perry touchdown run, the Tigers drove from their own 26 to the Demons’ 25. On second-and-7 at the Duncan 17, Galbreath appeared to score the go-ahead touchdown on a quarterback keeper around the left end, but Ardmore was flagged for a 10-yard clipping penalty.

“That call didn’t cost us the game,” Wendel said. “They made more plays than us.”

On fourth-and-15 after two incompletions, Duncan’s Jared Griffin intercepted Galbreath at the Demons’ 1 to kill the drive. Ardmore forced Duncan into another three-and-out, but the Tigers still couldn’t punch in the winning points, as Griffin broke up Galbreath’s pass on fourth-and-9 at the Duncan 31 with 31 seconds remaining.

“Before the interception, I thought we had all the momentum,” said Galbreath, who finished 19-of-36 for 165 yards. “Then we had the pick and we lost all the momentum. But I liked how the team came out, played with heart and didn’t back down.”

Ardmore wide receiver/defensive back Jywayne Allen twisted his ankle on the game’s first series and didn’t return. The Tigers looked to be in good shape in the secondary, however, when Dee Williamson picked off Brandon Carletti-Silva on Duncan’s first drive. Galbreath turned it into points with a 3-yard keeper for the 7-0 lead.

But Carletti-Silva settled in after that, going 8-for-10 the rest of the half for 140 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Jack Braught toward the end of the first quarter. The bruising quarterback finished with 82 yards on 21 carries and was 9-of-12 for 143 yards passing, but was held to just 14 total yards after halftime.

Sandwiched between Carletti-Silva touchdown runs of 4 and 1 yards in the second quarter, Duncan forced Galbreath into an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety. The 16-point second quarter gave the Demons the lead they needed in order to withstand Ardmore’s offensive surge after halftime.

Perry had a 5-yard TD run in the third quarter to pull Ardmore within 10 at 23-13, and the senior finished with 138 yards on 21 carries. Tyler Dickson had four catches for 42 yards, Josiah Reed had six for 33 and Juaren McGee had 115 all-purpse yards (57 rushing, 58 receiving) for the Tigers.

Ardmore hosts Altus for Senior Night before playing Carl Albert Nov. 11. The Titans, ranked fourth in Class 5A, edged the Tigers 23-20 in week 2.

McGee said that despite the loss, the team isn’t worried about facing Carl Albert again.
“We hope we play them, as long as the team keeps getting better,” McGee said. “We came out in the second half with a better attitude, we’ve just gotta keep moving forward.”

Erik K. Horne