By Tommy Cobb
TULSA – Fort Gibson coach James Singleton was looking for his team to shine in its district opener after last week’s loss to Catoosa. What he got was a mix. While the eighth-ranked Tigers did shine at times, there were times they were anything but glowing.
Fort Gibson’s J.R. Singleton rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers used a punishing ground attack to knock off previously unbeaten Tulsa Rogers, 38-12, at S.E. Williams Stadium.
“I would have liked for us to have been a little more polished,” coach Singleton said. “It was almost a tale of two cities. Sometimes we imposed the adversity on ourselves.”
The outcome of the game was never really in doubt as Fort Gibson (3-1, 1-0 District 4A-4) controlled the game on the ground from the outset. But penalties, mistakes, and a much-improved Ropers’ team kept the game close until the fourth quarter.
“Rogers challenged us to run the ball and we were able to establish the running game,” coach Singleton said. “Penalties kinda put us in a bind, but in the fourth quarter we were able to finally take control.”
Fort Gibson rushed for 326 yards as a team. In addition to Singleton’s rushing yardage, Michael Richey had 98 yards on 11 carries and Chris Walker added 87 yards on 11 carries.
However, despite the ability to move the ball, several drives were stalled due to penalties. Fort Gibson was penalized 17 times for 147 yards. Rogers (3-1, 0-1) also suffered its share of yellow flags with 126 yards on 14 penalties.
Even though the Tigers had their early struggles, they were able to finally put together a drive at the end of the first quarter. Singleton then capped the drive with a fourth-down screen pass to Jordan London who took it 20 yards to give Fort Gibson a 7-0 lead.
Daniel Mielnik kicked a 34 yard field goal to make it 10-0 late in the second. Fort Gibson then forced Rogers to punt. Zach Drain returned the short kick 28 yards and combined with a penalty gave the Tigers the ball at the Roper 7. Richey then scored to give Fort Gibson a 17-7 lead.
Fort Gibson’s defense held Rogers to minus 24 yards rushing in the first half and kept constant pressure on Roper quarterback A. J. Lewis. Michael Rosales had three sacks in the first half.
Fort Gibson went up 24-0 early in the third quarter and it appeared a rout might be in the making. Jon Terronez tackled LaQurious Taft for an 11-yard loss to force Rogers to punt from their own 11. But Rogers recovered a muffed punt at its own 40. Lewis hit Taft on a 37-yard pass to set up Taft’s 10-yard run that cut the Tiger lead to 24-6.
Rogers’ Deidrich Cherry then intercepted Singleton and returned it inside the Tiger 10 to set up the Ropers next score. Three Tiger penalties assisted Rogers on the short drive which was capped by a 3-yard run by Taft.
“To get more pressure on their quarterback, we did more man to man,” coach Singleton said. “Sometimes we won those matchups, sometimes we lost. In the fourth quarter, we began to win more than we lost and we were able to put them away. We got the district win and the 15 points.”
Fort Gibson dominated Rogers over the final six minutes of the game. Drain’s 33-yard kickoff return set up the Tigers 49-yard drive in which Singleton had carries of 16, 17, and 13 yards before giving the Tigers a 31-12 lead on a 2-yard run.
Grady Mosteller recovered a Roper fumble at the Rogers 28 on its next possession. Singleton then had runs of 11 and a final one of 17 yards as Fort Gibson put the game away.
Rogers had one last chance to score moving inside the Tiger 20. But the Fort Gibson defense forced three straight incompletions to end the drive.
FORT GIBSON 38, TULSA ROGERS 12
Fort Gibson 7 10 7 14 – 38
Rogers 0 0 6 6 – 12
FGHS – Jordan London 20 pass from J.R. Singleton (Daniel Mielnik kick) 0:37
FGHS – FG, Mielnik 34 3:59
FGHS – Michael Richey 7 run (Mielnik kick) 1:20
FGHS – Singleton 4 run (Mielnik kick) 9:52
WRHS – LaQurious Taft 10 run (kick fail) 4:15
WRHS – Taft 3 run (pass fail) 6:06
FGHS – Singleton 2 run (Mielnik kick) 4:52
FGHS – Singleton 17 run (Mielnik kick) 4:03
Rushing – FGHS, J.R. Singleton 15-112; WRHS, LaQurious Taft 14-34.
Passing – FGHS, Singleton 4-10-1 56; WRHS, A.J. Lewis 9-35-1 185.
Receiving – FGHS, Shane Salinas 2-29; WRHS, Travis Hichte 4-103.