Tigers rush for 426 yards in 24-10 win
By David Wolman
ADA — Their offense held scoreless, and three turnovers to boot during the first half Friday night, the Ardmore Tigers formulated a change in scheme at intermission.
Seniors Josh Davis and Sam Ruhl were inserted as part of a tight end package with the intention of having Ardmore blockers outnumber the number of Ada defenders.
The change paid off.
Senior running back O.J. Walker scored from 45 yards out and junior Jordan Roberts added touchdown runs of 14 and 70 yards en route to 426 rushing yards for the Tigers in their 24-10 victory at Norris Field.
Class 5A’s No. 2 Ardmore (1-0) attempted only one pass during the second half and four over the course of the entire game.
“We put this in, I think, ever since we started running this offense,” said Ardmore senior offensive lineman Braden Lyles. “We kind of just held it back during scrimmages and just unleashed it now. It helped out a lot tonight.”
Ardmore’s option offense kept Ardmore’s defense guessing throughout. The Tigers’ four-headed rushing attack of Walker, Roberts, senior fullback Isaiah Bailey and senior quarterback Clay Atwood had Class 4A’s No. 4 Ada on its heels during the second half. Bailey gained a team-high 125 yards on 18 carries. Roberts also broke the century mark as he finished with 102 yards on just five carries. Walker scampered for 81 yards on nine carries. Atwood totaled 63 yards on 13 carries.
Ardmore trailed 3-2 at halftime, yet the Tigers knew they had dodged a couple of early bullets.
A crucial third-down tackle for a four-yard loss by Tyreece Lott forced Ada into settling for a 25-yard field goal by Jackson McFarlane on its initial drive.
After the Cougars recovered a Tigers fumble inside Ada territory later in the quarter, Ada nearly went ahead by two scores, but Tyrik Cohee saved Ardmore from further disaster. He cut off the route of an Ada receiver and intercepted a pass inside the Cougars 20-yard line.
“That was a big moment,” Newby said of Cohee’s interception.
For Ardmore, it was also about overcoming self-inflicted mistakes.
The Tigers turned the ball over three times during the first half and also allowed Cougars running back Shiloh Windsor, all 220 pounds of him, to break loose for several long runs. Windsor accumulated 200 yards of offense. He ran for 94 yards on 13 carries and hauled in six receptions for 106 yards with one touchdown.
The defense produced the Tigers’ first points of the season.
With just over a minute remaining in the first half, a high snap sailed over the head of Ada punter Gaberiel Simmons and into the end zone. Sevin Franklin hustled to track down Simmons and made an ankle tackle in the end zone, resulting in a safety.
“That was a little ugly, three to two,” Newby said. “It did seem like a baseball score. Turning the ball over three times, we’re not going to win ballgames doing that. We’ve got to learn how to play a lot cleaner.”
Ada (0-1) again nearly went up by two scores during the early stages of the third quarter.
With the Cougars facing fourth-and-15 at the Ardmore 29, Windsor had beaten a Tigers’ defender down the middle of the field. Ardmore breathed a huge sigh of relief after the pass from quarterback Dillon Briggs sailed two yards over Windsor’s reach.
It took only two plays to swing the momentum into Ardmore’s favor.
Bailey scampered for 26 yards on the very next play to fire up his Tigers teammates. Walker fed off Bailey’s play and ran 45 yards for a touchdown on the very next play. Walker ran in the 2-point conversion for a 10-3 Ardmore lead at the 8:23 mark.
Windsor broke a couple of tackles on Ada’s next series to complete a 70-yard pass play to tie the score at 10-10.
Ardmore’s defense held firm for the remainder of the game and didn’t allow Ada to score any more points.
Roberts turned in two runs to give Ardmore the lead for good.
With the Tigers facing third-and-one on their ensuing series, Roberts broke the tie, running in from 14 yards out, on a toss play to the inside, for the score. Hunter Darter’s kick on the extra point gave Ardmore a 17-10 lead. Roberts put the final touches on the Tigers’ victory with a 70-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
“It was hard,” he said. “It took a lot of teamwork. That’s all we needed to come together. My blockers got the blocks that I needed to go to the end zone like I needed.”