OKLAHOMA CITY — When the Ardmore Tigers last appeared in the state semifinals, there were feelings of heartbreak, and more than a few tears shed.

OKLAHOMA CITY — When the Ardmore Tigers last appeared in the state semifinals, there were feelings of heartbreak, and more than a few tears shed.

Friday night, there were still tears shed, but this time they were of pure joy.

In front of an estimated crowd of more than 3,000 people at Charles W. Sheid stadium on the campus of Western Heights High School in Oklahoma City, the No. 2 Ardmore Tigers put on a stellar performance as they earned a place in the Class 5A state finals for the first time since 1992 with a 21-13 victory over the No. 5 Bishop Kelley Comets (10-3). 

Ardmore (13-0) will play for the Class 5A state championship at 7 p.m. Friday night at Wolves Stadium on the campus of Edmond Santa Fe High School. 

“This feels great, and I’m so excited for our players,” Ardmore coach Josh Newby said. “They have had such a willingness to improve and such a grit about them this year. We’re taking the mentality of we have to try and win it and get after it.”

“It got very heated during that game,” Newby added. “Our composure is what ultimately won the game for us. I’m so proud of the decisions our players made and kept themselves composed.” 

In making their first state semifinal appearance since 1999, the Comets more than brought the fight to the Tigers on an unseasonably cool night.

But it was the Comets lack of discipline that ultimately cost them at crucial points of the game. 

Bishop Kelley was flagged nine times in the game, with five of the calls being personal foul or dead ball penalties. 

One specific penalty in the third quarter proved to be a huge momentum swing for the Tigers.

Facing a 4th and 10 from the Ardmore 40-yard line, Comets quarterback Jack Barkley connected with Cori Lewis for what appeared to be a touchdown, which would have made the score 14-6 at that point.

However, Bishop Kelley was flagged for an ineligible receiver downfield, and the touchdown was taken off the board.

Penalties also cost the Comets a chance at a potential rally late in the fourth quarter, as Lewis picked off a pass from Tero Roberts and returned it to the Bishop Kelley 35-yard line.

But a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Lewis, combined with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Comets head coach JJ Tappana for protesting, moved the Comets to their own five-yard line.

Despite Bishop Kelley scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Barkley to Lewis as time expired, it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. 

Meanwhile, the Ardmore offense more than left an impression on the Comets in the first half.

After a scoreless first quarter which saw the Ardmore defense stop Barkley on a fourth down conversion, Roberts and the Tigers offense went to work.

Less than three minutes into the second quarter, Eean Ross got Ardmore on the board with a two-yard touchdown run up the middle, Bishop Kelley was flagged shortly after the play for the first of its many personal foul penalties. 

Despite the extra activities, Ardmore was in front 7-0 following the extra point from Rafael Interiano.

Following a five play drive that resulted in a Comets punt, Ardmore once again moved the ball down the field at its own steady pace.

This time the crushing blow was dealt by Roberts, who pushed his way in for a six-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with less than three minutes to go before halftime. 

Following the break, Ardmore’s opening possession didn’t go as planned, as the Comets recovered a fumble on their own five yard line.

However, Bishop Kelley couldn’t capitalize on the Tigers mistake as both teams traded punts throughout the quarter, leading to another scoreless frame.

But, just 38 seconds into the fourth, Roberts stamped his seal on the semifinals as he got his second touchdown of the night, this time from five yards out to make it 21-0.

In total, Roberts finished with 27 carries for 167 yards, as well as going 1-for-1 passing for 28 yards.

“This is an indescribable feeling right now,” Roberts said. “I couldn’t have done any of this without my teammates. We came out and executed as hard as we could. We’re not satisfied though, we have one more game to go.”

“I want to give a big shout out to my offensive line,” Roberts added. “They are the reason why we are here where we are, and the reason why we’ve been able to be successful. We’ve got to execute next week like we know we can.” 

Bishop Kelley did eventually get its first offensive score of the night at the 7:40 mark of the fourth quarter when Lewis was on the receiving end of a 30-yard pass from Stephen Collins to make it 21-7.

But that was all she wrote for the Comets, whose 10-game winning streak was snapped.

Lewis finished the game with six catches for 91 yards for the Comets.