By Eric Shannon
FORT GIBSON ¬- It was a game of missed opportunities for the Fort Gibson Tigers, and the Catoosa Indians were happy to take advantage of them as the Indians escape with a 27-26 win at Leo Donahue Tiger Stadium on Friday night.
Even though the Tigers offense churned out nearly 300 yards on the ground it was mistakes that plagued the Tigers all night.
Caleb Wilsey’s 6-yard TD run with :59 left proved to be the game-winner for Catoosa (2-1), but it was a drive where FGHS aided the Indians with 30 yards in penalties on what amounted to a 78-yard march.
Daniel Mielnik’s 42-yard field goal with six seconds left in the game fell inches short of the target, handing the Tigers (2-1) their first loss.
“We had too many mistakes tonight, just plain and simple,” said Tigers coach James Singleton. “But as bad as we played we still have a chance to win the game at the end.”
Chase Nevel put the Indians up 7-0 with just 11:45 gone in the opening quarter when he returned the opening kickoff 95 yards to paydirt. The Tigers countered with the quarterback counter as J.R. Singleton faked a handoff to Michael Richey, then sprinted 42 yards untouched making it 7-7 with 3:40 left in the first stanza.
Singleton again struck gold when he found a streaking Jordan London for a 64 yard touchdown pass, but a blocked extra point would be a thorn in the Tigers paw, even though the home team led 13-7 entering the half.
The Tigers began the third quarter by promptly putting together a drive, spurned by Ritchey's 45 yard run to the Indians 15, and looked to be in the driver's seat once again. But a holding call negated a 15-yard touchdown run by Chris Walker, then a fumbled pitch moved the Tigers backwards and into a turnover on downs.
“We have to clean up our mental mistakes,” said coach Singleton. “We take a touchdown off the board and then don't get any points after we are inside their 15.” “We have to get this corrected.”
On the Tigers’ next possession, an intercepted pass gave Catoosa prime real estate at midfield.
A Fort Gibson defensive unit that held the Indians in check the first half, allowing only three first downs and 43 yards rushing, seemed to be the Tigers backbone until Devin Hemphill entered the game for the Indians. Hemphill's first touch in the second half proved a huge one, as he split the FGHS defense for a 30-yard touchdown run with 6:17 in the third period to put the Indians back on top 14-13.
Singleton capped a 14-play drive that ate six minutes off the clock with a 1-yard TD run, putting FGHS up 20-14 with :16 left in the third. But Catoosa wouldn't die. Following another missed opportunity when the Tigers turned the ball over on downs at their 47, Hemphill struck again, this time a 83-yard burst and reclaim the lead 21-20 with 6:42 left in the fourth.
Back came the Tigers on a 10-play, 74-yard march that received a huge assist when Mielnik’s blocked field goal attempt was scooped up by Zach Drain, who carried it to the Indian 3. Singleton’s second TD carry from a yard out came with 5:03 to go.
This time, the decision was made to go for two on the conversion. Singleton appeared to cross the goal line but after a discussion, officials ruled him inches short.
Catoosa then answered, with a few assists from the Tigers defensive unit.
“You just can't do those things and expect to win,” said coach Singleton. “We did some good things but we made to many mistakes tonight. We will get the ship righted and get things fixed for district play.”
Hemphill finished with 150 yards rushing on just 10 carries. Richey led the Tigers with 127 yards on 16 touches. Singleton added 100 yards on 13 carries.
CATOOSA 27, FORT GIBSON 26
CATOOSA 7 0 7 6-27
FT. GIBSON 7 6 7 6-26
CHS - Chase Nevel 95 kickoff return (Jeff Colvin kick) 11:45 7-0
FGHS - J.R. Singleton 42 run (Daniel Mielnik kick) 3:40 7-7
FGHS - Jordan London 64 pass from Singleton (kick blocked) 2:44 13=-7
CHS - Devin Hemphill 30 run (Colvin kick) 6:17 13-14
FGHS - Singleton 1 run (Mielnik kick) :16 20-14
CHS - Hemphill 83 run (Colvin kick) 6:42 20-21
FGHS - Singleton 1 run (run fail) 2:59 26-21
CHS - Caleb Wilsey 6 run (pass fail) :59
First Downs 11 19
Rushes -Yards 37-238 43-288
Passing CAI 2-14-1 8-25-1
Passing Yards 15 129
Punts - Avg. 6-30 4-38
Penalties-Yards 6-65 7-60
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-1
Rushing: FGHS, Michael Richey 16-127, J.R. Singleton 13-100, Tristan Johnson 6-27, Chris Walker 8-13.
Passing: FGHS, Singleton 25-8-1-0-129. CHS, Wilsey 14-2-1-0-15.
Receiving: FGHS, London 3-87, Peterson 2-17.