By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Muskogee’s hopes of a happy homecoming Friday night came down to a two-minute drill that dug itself into a rut.
From its own 20 with 1:49 to play, the only forward progress came on a procedure call against Sapulpa, which only negated the initial flag of the possession which went against the home team.
Four incomplete passes later and not only was MHS on the short end of a 13-10 homecoming loss, it also saw its hopes of making a run at the postseason dim.
The Roughers (1-5, 1-3) get District 6A-2 leader Jenks Thursday and can ill afford another loss. Sapulpa stays in the thick of it with a 3-1 mark in district, 5-2 overall.
“It’s dark, for sure,” said a dejected head coach Josh Blankenship about his team’s chances, which seemed to brighten after a convincing win over Tulsa Edison last week.
Quarterback Trevor Jiles tried to thread a toss to Jefferson Moore in double coverage on his first pass attempt of the final drive. His next attempt across the middle appeared to be a little behind Anthony King, who got his hands on the ball but couldn’t hold on.
He again tried to go to King upfield but was off target, and on fourth-and-10, Jiles threw to Bryson Bell on a combination which worked for a 10-yard go-ahead score to start the third quarter. But this time the on-target pass went through the hands of Bell, who fell in anguish to both knees as the ball went to the Chieftains, who knelt twice to end the contest.
It was the sixth consecutive incomplete pass for Jiles, who ended up 10-of-21 for 98 yards and a touchdown.
The outcome spoiled what was overall another solid effort by the Roughers defense. Scoring drives of 80 and 87 yards accounted for most of the 277 yards on the night, and a 13-point yield seemed to be something the offense could overcome.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said defensive end Tramal Ivy. “We put in so much work this week. It’s crazy.”
Ivy led an often tenacious pursuit on Chieftains quarterback Sam Gottsch, but the fleet-footed junior was able to make just enough big plays to sustain drives and on most of those scrambles found wideout Ben Johnson.
Johnson had six catches for 118 yards. His only scoring catch came on a 22-yard halfback pass from Austin Feathers which put the Chieftains up to stay with 6:49 to play. The missed extra point gave Muskogee a chance to aim for overtime in the final two minutes but it wouldn’t come close to Preston Soper’s range.
Gottsch, meanwhile, recovered from an early interception at the line of scrimmage by Ivy which led to a 32-yard Soper field goal. He took the Chieftains 80 yards on the next drive, connecting with Johnson on a critical fourth-and-11 play to the Muskogee 17. The two hooked up twice in the early part of the drive on passes covering 35 and 16 yards.
Gottsch went the final yard on a sneak.
“He’s very good at buying time with his footwork which helps his receivers get open,” Blankenship said. “I thought for the most part we did a good job containing him but we gave up one too many big plays – the third downs, fourth downs – at crucial times.”
The Roughers’ last-gasp drive might not have been needed but for some early offensive miscues.
Muskogee’s first-quarter field goal came after Jiles missed a wide-open King in the corner of the end zone. King caught the ball but several yards out of bounds in stride.
On its next drive, Jiles hit Moore on a 60-yard catch-and-run to the 2 but a block in the back brought the ball back for what amounted to a 1-yard gain. Later in the drive, at the Sapulpa 45, Jiles’ overthrown toss was picked by Cory Mondler at the 5.
It was Mondler’s sixth interception of the season.
SAPULPA 13, MUSKOGEE 10
Sapulpa 7 0 0 6—13
Muskogee 3 0 7 0—10
MHS-Preston Soper 32 FG, 5:03.
SHS-Sam Gottsch 1 run (Cameron Mortazvi kick), 0:00
MHS-Bryson Bell 10 pass from Trevor Jiles (Soper kick), 7:04.
SHS- Ben Johnson 25 pass from Austin Feathers (kick failed), 6:49.
First Downs 18 13
Rushes-Yards 36-97 28-123
Passing Yards 180 98
Passes CAI 10-16-1 10-21-1
Punts-Avg. 2-38 3-42
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 9-65 10-69
Rushing: SHS, Austin Feathers 16-56. MHS, Mackenzie McCall 12-64.
Passing: SHS, Gottsch 10-15-155-1. MHS, Jiles 10-21-98-1 (TD).
Receiving: SHS, Ben Johnson 6-118 (TD). MHS, Bryson Bell 5-46 (TD).