By Eric Shannon
FORT GIBSON – Defense was the name of the game Friday night for the Fort Gibson Tigers, forcing four Stillwell turnovers and holding the Indians to just 71 yards rushing for the night, taking the 41-0 shutout win at Leo Donahue Tiger Stadium.
“We had very stout defense,” Fort Gibson coach James Singleton said. “Our kids played really well in holding them to a shutout. The defense set us up all night long with short fields and kept us in good field position. They really helped our offense all game long.”
With the defense playing determined to keep the Indians (3-6, 2-4) in check, it was the trio of running backs that kept the Tigers offense rolling all night.
Tristan Johnson led the way with 101 yards rushing on seven carries, while Kyle Martin added 66 yards on 10 carries and Michael Ritchey chipped in 65 yards on seven carries.
“All of our running backs came up big tonight. They ran tough and had a solid night and gave us a lot of production,” Singleton said. “Kyle really came on for us late in the game and Tristen's run at the beginning of the game really help us set a tone.”
Keeping the Tiger offense on a short field all night long proved to be plan for the night. Five of the Tigers scoring drives began in Indians’ territory.
On the Tigers’ (6-3,4-2 4A-4) opening possession, Johnson didn't waste much time when he busted up the middle of the Indians’ defense for a 72-yard run to the Indian 21. Two plays later, quarterback J.R. Singleton found Trevor Lindley for a 22-yard strike and put the Tigers up 7-0 with 8:42 left in the first quarter.
Ritchey punched in a two-yard touchdown run with 8:07 left in the second quarter, capping a 13-play, 78-yard drive that chewed up 4:07 off the clock and pad the Tigers’ lead to 14-0.
Kicker Daniel Mielnik added a 22-yard field goal with 1:40 left to go before halftime and stretch the Tigers lead to 17-0.
The Tigers then turned up the intensity.
The Fort Gibson quarterback found a leaping Jordan London for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 10:12 left in the third quarter, stretching the lead to 24-0.
The Tigers’ Sheldon Smith recovered a Stilwell fumble at the Indians’ 17-yard line on the next possession. Four plays later, Singleton snuck in from the one-yard and moved the lead to 31-0 with 7:48 left in the third quarter.
Keeping their momentum, Johnson picked off a Jaron Vaughn pass at the Indians’ 30. Four plays later, Martin jogged in from three yards out to pad the lead to 38-0 with 3:33 left in the third.
Mielnik capped off the night with a 23-yard field goal with 3:21 left in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to nickel and dime them, run our offense and finish drives in the second half,” the Fort Gibson coach said.
The Tigers only committed one penalty in the first half and scored on every possession but one in the second half.
FORT GIBSON 41, STILWELL 0
STILWELL 0 0 0 0–0
FORT GIBSON 7 10 21 3–41
FGHS - Trevor Lindley 22 pass from J.R. Singleton (Daniel Mielnik kick) 8:42
FGHS - Michael Ritchey 2 run (Mielnik kick) 8:07
FGHS - Mielnik 22 field goal 1:40
FGHS - Jordan London 24 pass from Singleton (Mielnik kick) 10:12
FGHS - Singleton 1 run (Mielnik kick) 7:48
FGHS - Kyle Martin 3 run (Mielnik kick) 3:33
FGHS - Mielnik 23 field goal 3:21
First Downs 9 19
Rushes -Yards 28-71 41-284
Passing A-C-I 16-6-1 12-6-0
Passing Yards 69 87
Punts - Avg. 3-36 2-37
Penalties Yards 5-40 7-60
Fum - Lost 6-3 0-0
RUSHING - SHS - Dylan Martin 10-44, Jaron Vaughn 8-6, Gregory Benham 8-28; FGHS J.R. Singleton 10-39, Tristan Johnson 7-101, Michael Ritchey 7-65, Kyle Martin 10-66
PASSING - FGHS - Singleton 12-6-0-2-87
RECEIVING - FGHS - Jordan London 2-38, Trevor Lindley 1-22, Will Rumbley 1-7, Micah Moles 1-12, Zach Peterson 1-9