MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 14, 2012

Tigers maul Mustangs to advance


— By Eric Shannon

Times Correspondent

Senior running back Jake Gandara picked up the slack with Fort Gibson missing some of its offensive firepower, keeping the Tigers rolling with 202 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 38-20 win over the Oologah Mustangs Friday night at Leo Donahue Stadium.

The Tigers (10-1) advance to the second round of the 4A playoffs and will go to Anadarko on Friday.

Gandara and the Tigers’ offense were missing their starting quarterback, J.R. Singleton. Singleton is sidelined with an injured elbow and most likely lost for the stretch run of the season for the second straight year. Jordon London filled in admirably for the missing component as the Tigers racked up 350 total yards, most of it out of the wildcat with Gandara stepping in to the spotlight.

“Jordon stepped in and did what we asked him to do and did a good job running the offense,” said Tigers coach James Singleton. “Of course when you have number 20 (Gandara) in the backfield it makes it easier.”

Despite the 18-point gap the game had its share of tense moments. Gandara didn’t get into his groove until midway through the second quarter. The Mustangs’ focused energy limited him to 21 yards on his first seven touches.

London stepped up, connecting with Ned Adair on the Tigers’ first possession for 42 yards which led to a Daniel Mielnik 27-yard field goal and a quick 3-0 FGHS lead with 9:29 left in the third quarter.

A defensive stand on the Mustangs’ first possession gave the ball back to Fort Gibson on its own 15. Two plays later London scampered 80 yards for a 10-0 Tigers lead.

Oologah’s Payton Craig scored on a 10-yard run, making it 10-6 with 3:23 in the quarter. It was then that FGHS went to the wildcat and turned Gandara loose.

The senior took three shotgun snaps and rushed for 12, 15 and 18 yards, the latter crossing the goal line and putting the Tigers up 18-6.

“They were (Mustangs) overplaying our formations and keying on the tight end, so we had to make some adjustments on the fly and moved into the wildcat formation,” Singleton said. “We caught them off guard and they didn’t expect it.”

With 1:16 left in before half, Gandara struck again, busting up the middle following a convoy behind Jon Terronez and Seth Taylor for a 56-yard score and a 25-6 halftime lead.

Craig rallied his troops to open the third quarter, aided by a no-call offensive pass interference at the Tigers’ 45 when London, reaching for an interception, was pulled down by the intended receiver.

Teddy Keys sprinted up the right sideline on the next play for 50 yards, then Craig followed that up with a 20-yard connection with Breyden Despain to pull the visitors within 25-13 with 11:06 in the third quarter.

Grinding out the remaining of the game was the main focus for the Tigers after the Mustang score.

Taking the ensuing possession on their own 34 after an attempted onside kick, the Tigers used two 10-play drives and the defense stepped in with a turnover on downs to keep the clock rolling and the Mustangs off the field.

Gandara capped an 11-play 6:26 play drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge for a 32-13 lead with 10:47 left in the fourth quarter.

Twenty-one seconds later the Tigers’ defense made its biggest play of the night when Terronez scooped up a quarterback fumble at the Mustang 15 and ran it in untouched, making it 38-13.

“That scoop-and-run was as big as play as we had tonight,” said Singleton. “I thought our back end did a great job holding their passing game in check all night.”