EDMOND - When it mattered most, Trey Kiser was ready to answer the bell for his team.

EDMOND - When it mattered most, Trey Kiser was ready to answer the bell for his team.

As a result, the Sulphur Bulldogs are heading to the 3A state finals for the first time since 2004.

No. 3 Sulphur managed to take an early lead, and never look back as the Bulldogs took down the Kingfisher Yellowjackets 35-26 at Wolves Stadium on the campus of Edmond Santa Fe High School.

The Bulldogs, winners of 12 games in a row, will take on top-ranked Heritage Hall at 7 p.m. Friday night for the state title at Charles W. Sheid Stadium on the campus of Western Heights High School in Oklahoma City. 

Sulphur (12-1), took the lead 12 seconds into the game and never trailed. 

Tavius McDonald got Sulphur on the board early by returning the opening kick-off 88 yards for a touchdown.  

Kingfisher’s first drive ended at the Bulldog 10-yard line when a fumble by the Yellowjackets was recovered by Sulphur’s Cole Johnson. 

From there the Bulldogs marched 90 yards in 12 plays and used six minutes of clock to move up 14-0, with the touchdown coming on a 1-yard run by Trey Kiser on a fourth down play.

Kingfisher (9-4) continued to struggle to move against the smothering Bulldog defense. 

A second punt by the Yellowjackets gave Sulphur possession at their 40-yard line early in the second quarter. 

It took the Bulldogs just four plays to move to a 21-0 advantage with Kiser scoring from eight yards out.

Kiser finished the night with 30 carries for 128 yards and three touchdowns, which gives the senior running back/linebacker 38 touchdowns and more than 2,400 yards rushing on the year.

“We were fortunate to have Trey back for the full game,” Sulphur coach Jim Dixon said. 

“He had been a little injured for the last four games, and we had to keep him on the sideline to keep him from further injury. But tonight we got him the entire game. And we definitely needed him.”

The Yellowjackets managed to get on the scoreboard with seven minutes left in the half, thanks to an 8-yard scoring toss from quarterback Jett Sternberger to Jarrett Birdwell, which cut the lead to 21-7.

Sulphur quarterback Cole Johnson put the Bulldogs up 28-7 with a 4-yard run to cap a 10-play drive to give Sulphur a 28-7 lead with four minutes left before halftime. 

But, Kingfisher used their quick-striking ability to cut the lead to two touchdowns when Sternberger hit Birdwell again, this time on a 35-yard strike that made it 28-13.

Kingfisher had a chance to pull within one touchdown in the closing seconds of the half. The Yellowjackets were inside the Bulldog 10-yard line with 45 seconds remaining. 

But the Sulphur defense came up big and stopped two consecutive Kingfisher runs at the one-yard line as time ran out.

Sternberger had a big offensive night for the Yellowjackets, as the senior quarterback was 22-of-35 passing for 347 yards with four touchdown passes and two interceptions. 

Birdwell was his key target with five catches for 139 yards and three scores, while Trey Green had 132 yards on seven catches with one touchdown.

“Our defense came up big for us all night long,” Dixon said. “That stop just before half was huge, and we had another stop inside our 5-yard line later in the game. Plus we had the two pass interceptions and the fumble recovery. Those kinds of things changes momentum, and our defense got the job done tonight when we had to have a stop.

“They (Kingfisher) had a lot of yards because of their passing game,” Dixon added. “That is the best passing quarterback we have seen all season. He was almost unstoppable at times, but we came up big when we had to in order to get the win.”

Following a scoreless third quarter, Kingfisher got on the board early in the fourth. 

Sternberger hit Birdwell at the Sulphur 25-yard line with a strike that Birdwell ran in for a 72-yard scoring toss to make it a 28-20 game with 9:35 left.

The game turned later in the fourth following a stop by the Yellowjackets of the Bulldogs offense inside the Kingfisher 10-yard line. 

In three plays Sternberger had his team to mid-field. But on a first and ten play a Sternberger pass was picked off by Mason Lance at the Sulphur 40-yard line. 

Lance returned it all the way to the Yellowjacket 25-yard line.

“In my opinion that was one of the biggest plays of the game,” Dixon said. “They were driving for a possible tying touchdown when Lance got that interception. It turned out to be huge from our standpoint.”

It took the Bulldogs just six plays to move 25 yards for the key score of the night. 

On a third and goal at the 9-yard line, Kiser bulled his way over left tackle for an important insurance score with 1:38 remaining. That gave Sulphur a 35-20 lead.

“Trey just willed himself for that touchdown,” Dixon said. 

“He was going to score or else. And as it turned out we needed that touchdown, and I can’t say enough about the way Cole (Johnson) has been running the offense at quarterback. He has made huge strides this season. I am just happy to be where we are. Now we have to get prepared for one more against Heritage Hall.”

Kingfisher scored for a final time on a 37-yard pass from Sternberger to Trey Green with 33 seconds left.