By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
BIXBY – A missed fourth-and-2 conversion from midfield led to an avalanche that buried Muskogee’s 2012 season here Friday with a 46-21 loss to Bixby in the District 6A-2 finale for both playoff-less squads
The conversion attempt, a quarterback draw by Trevor Jiles, was stopped by Bixby defensive lineman Jake Castillo for no gain. On the next play, Spartans running back Jake Cantrell went 50 yards on a sweep, making it 25-14 with 1:29 to go in the half.
Bixby (4-6, 2-5) wasn’t done. Gacek Caden picked off Jiles just past midfield with just under a minute to go and the Spartans went 69 yards in four plays, with quarterback Ray Marshall finding Kyle Rhine on a 34-yard pass to set up the 20-yard TD using the same combination with 10.3 seconds on the clock.
“It was (on the fourth-down call) how much can we get on the board before they realize how much we’re getting away with on the back end,” said Muskogee coach Josh Blankenship.
Credit a depleted secondary for that. Sammy Richardson, Orion Ennis and Marcus McVay missed the game with injuries and two others – Roger Lewis and Tavian Davis, along with wide receiver Adonis Talbert and running back Raundel Cooper were benched for disciplinary reasons.
All but McVay, Ennis and Cooper return next season.
So will Tariq Beasley. The 5-foot-3, 140-pound freshman and younger brother of junior linebacker Ty-Chris Beasley rushed for a team-high 107 yards on 14 carries. He also had four catches for 53 yards.
Sophomore receiver James Buckhanan had four catches for 129 yards including an 80-yarder that capped a 5-play, 99-yard scoring drive to give MHS a 7-0 lead.
Muskogee would lead again on Mackenzie McCall’s 19-yard run with 4:38 to go in the first half, capping an 81-yard drive and making it 14-10.
Bixby would then strike three times in the final 4:38 and put up 36 unanswered points. But the quick pair of scores right before the half seemed to seal it.
Blankenship, though, said he could see it coming.
“We had to put our backup quarterback and teach him to play cornerback in three days,” he said. “We were outmanned back there and eventually they were going to see how thin we were.”
Marshall did and like many of the Roughers who stood out in this one, he’ll be back next year. He was at one point 17 of 21 and finished 22-of-30 for 389 yards and four touchdowns, two to Marcus Jordan that went for 63 yards each. Jordan had five catches for 189 yards, Rhine eight for 139.
Jiles helped Muskogee get the final word, a 1-yard gain. He got there by connecting with Buckhanan on a 43-yard strike in the final minute of the third quarter.
The Roughers finished 1-8, 1-6, their first one-win season since 1965. Blankenship finished his second season at 5-14.
“Our seniors gave us everything. They were committed, they bought in, they led and we just weren’t good enough to go win a bunch of games,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking when you got the goals we did. But right now is about the seniors. I’ll think about next year next week.”
His diminutive running back will be among those on his mind, no doubt.
“I just gave it to God,” Beasley said. “I hope to use it to spring me to a good year next year and maybe a championship ring.”
BIXBY 46, MUSKOGEE 21
Muskogee 7 7 7 0–21
Bixby 3 29 14 0–46
MHS-James Buckhanan 80 pass from Trevor Jiles (Preston Soper kick), 6:20.
BHS-Dominic Bucher-Jones 33 FG, 1:30.
BHS-DeAndre Jennings 5 pass from Ray Marshall (Bucher-Jones kick), 8:54.
MHS-Mackenzie McCall 19 run (Soper kick), 4:38.
BHS- Marcus Jordan 63 pass from Marshall (Austin Grotts pass from Jordan), 4:00.
BHS- JJ Cantrell 50 run (Bucher-Jones kick), 1:29.
BHS- Kyle Rhine 20 pass from Marshall (Bucher-Jones kick), :10.3.
BHS-Jordan 63 pass from Marshall (Bucher-Jones kick), 11:38.
BHS-Rhine 8 run (Bucher-Jones kick), 8:08.
MHS-Jiles 1 run (Soper kick), :36.7.
First Downs 15 22
Rushes-Yards 32-159 26-157
Passing Yards 222 389
Passes CAI 17-40-2 22-30-0
Punts-Avg. 2-47 2-48
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 9-83 11-97
Rushing: Muskogee, Tyriq Beasley 14-107 (TD). Bixby, Cantrell 3-49 (TD).
Passing: Muskogee, Jiles 17-39-222-2 (1). Bixby, Marshall 22-30-398-0 (4 TD).
Receiving: Muskogee, Buckhanan 4-129, Bryson Bell 7-36, Beasley 4-53. Bixby, Jordan 5-189 (2 TD), Rhine 8-139.