The Ardmore Tigers came within one point of claiming the District 5A-1 title on senior night in Noble Stadium.
A few costly mistakes in the second half, however, were the difference in a 28-27 loss to No. 1 Lawton MacArthur.
“It just comes down to they executed at a little higher level than we did right down the stretch in the second half,” Ardmore coach Josh Newby said of the one point loss.
Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter, trading three and outs early. Ardmore’s Jordan Roberts broke a 53-yard run into enemy territory on the Tiger’s first possession, but the drive stalled at the MacArthur 15-yard line.
Things started to open up for both teams in the second quarter.
On its first possession of the second, Ardmore started the drive with two runs up the middle before calling the first passing play of the night for the Tigers. On a fake to the inside to Chantz Scurry, quarterback Anthony Kimmons hit Roberts in stride for a 61-yard strike to give the Tigers the 7-0 advantage.
Lawton MacArthur answered Ardmore with a drive of its own.
Starting from their own 24, the Highlanders used a steady dose of runs and short passes to keep the Ardmore defense on their heels. Running back Teddy Thomas capped the drive off with a strong 7-yard gallop into the end zone, spinning off of several tackles.
Ardmore had an answer.
After a few short Ardmore runs, Scurry found a huge whole and ran over several defenders before bouncing outside on the way to a 66-yard run to the end zone. The score put the Tigers up 14-7 going into halftime.
Things continued to go Ardmore’s way.
On Lawton MacArthur’s first drive of the second half, quarterback Anthony Love-Kemper was picked off by Diondre Scott for a pick-six. Scott ran under a short pass in the middle of the field and broke a couple of tackles to put the Tigers up 21-7 with 9:33 left in the third quarter.
Noble Stadium erupted into a roar following the score.
“The crowd was really good it was very loud,” Scott said. “I liked the atmosphere.”
The Highlanders, however, didn’t let that rattle them.
Behind Love-Kemper’s short passing game, the Highlanders used a 18-play drive to score on a B.J. Davis 1-yard run up the middle. The Highlanders converted three 4th down conversions on the drive to pull within 7.
On the ensuing kickoff, the momentum began to swing to the Highlanders’ sideline.
Highlander kicker Sam Smith kicked a high pooch kick, which Ardmore failed to reel in, allowing Smith to jump on his own kick. On the next play, Love-Kemper hit Ronnie Kimble in stride deep over the middle on a fake reverse for a 37-yard strike to tie the game at 21-21.
Again, Ardmore refused to let the rally rattle them.
The Tigers used a long drive, on the legs of Scurry, to drive 80 yards down the field. Scurry had 9 carries on the long drive, pounding into the heart of the Highlander defense. The Tigers scored on a 10-yard pitch to Roberts on the outside, faking an inside carry to Scurry up the middle.
Ardmore kicker Hunter Darter, however, missed the point-after-attempt wide right, giving the Tigers a 27-21 advantage.
The Highlanders, after the missed PAT, saw an opening.
On a drive led by Thomas and a pass interference call on 4th and 5 from their own 38, the Highlanders marched down the field, chewing up chunks of yardage and time off the clock.
Time turned out to be a crucial resource for the Tigers.
After a Tiger penalty, the game clock continued to run while the officials sorted out the penalty yardage. Nearly 40 seconds ran off the clock, a technicality the Ardmore sideline was aware of.
“I was telling the referees but you know there’s only so much you can do when you’re on the sideline,” Newby said of the runoff.
On 3rd and goal from the 2, Thomas found a hole and broke through for the score. Smith’s PAT sailed straight through the uprights.
With 1:42 left on the clock, Ardmore had time to answer. On the next play from scrimmage Kimmons attempted his second pass of the night, seeing a receiver wide open on the left side of the field.
Kimmons’ pass, however, wouldn’t find his receiver’s hands.
Kimmons took a hit while releasing the ball and Lawton MacArthur’s Rylan Webb intercepted the pass, sealing the Highlanders one-point victory and second consecutive district title.