By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Solid all along in a shaky season, Tramal Ivy capped his Muskogee career with a, well, career night.
Ivy broke former Rougher and current assistant coach Anthony McNac’s school sack record, and his rush to get it helped seal a 46-42 victory over the Bixby Spartans on Friday night on Muscogee (Creek) Nation Field at Indian Bowl.
Ivy stopped Bixby’s last-gasp drive with back-to-back sacks of quarterback Marshall Ray. After the last one resulted in a seven-yard at the Bixby 23 with less than a minute to play, the 6-foot-4 senior turned to the sideline and held up four fingers on both hands.
Those hands were also a key on the opposite side of the ball. He caught five passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns covering 72, 73 and 93 yards, the final two erasing a 42-32 Spartans lead and the final one coming with 7:31 to play in the contest.
“Whatever it took that’s what I was going to do. This feels so unreal. I can’t believe it. I’m just so happy,” Ivy said.
So was his head coach. McNac's record was set in 1998. With four sacks on the night, Ivy finished the year with 19.
“Unbelievable in every phase,” Muskogee coach Josh Blankenship said. “An incredible player and all the seniors stepped up.”
Those seniors went out with back-to-back wins, something that hasn’t happened since 2011 as Muskogee finished at 3-7, 3-4 in District 6A-2. But with Sapulpa’s 38-21 win over Tulsa Edison, there will be no post-season and for Blankenship, a just-miss on fourth place and a shot at the school he played and later coached for at Union next week.
“As a program we as a coaching staff weren’t in desperate need of a win because we know we’re going in the right direction,” Blankenship said. “But for these guys and especially the seniors to see that and be able to say it’s going in the right direction, it’s an awesome thing.”
Quintahj Cherry was 14-of-19 for 314 yards and scored two touchdowns running the ball, covering 44 yards on the opening drive on a perfect fake handoff and run to the outside and 7 yards on another scamper in the first quarter.
“Baylor read and Bear read, Baylor is to the strong side and Baylor is to the weak. If the end crashes I pull it and take off and it worked pretty good,” Cherry said.
“They were crashing early and they quit doing it, but it works when the interior run game is working and the line played well,” Blankenship said.
So efficient was Muskogee’s offense in the early going, they had four first-half touchdowns while consuming just 12 offensive plays and scored on four straight possessions and five of its six first-half drives.
That blocking also set Jacouri Freeman loose. Playing after Ty Beasley left with a turf toe injury in the first quarter, Freeman came in and rushed for 116 yards on 15 carries, scoring a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, including a 44-yard run up the gut of the Spartans’ defense and a 1-yarder that made it 32-21 going into halftime.
While Ivy had the final two big defensive plays, two others played a huge part in the final quarter. Bixby quarterback Marshall Ray, who threw for four touchdowns on the night, was intercepted three times. Two of those were in the fourth quarter, one by Keshon Burns at the 9 on a 40-yard toss, and Ty Beasley caught a ball which deflected off Spartans’ receiver Kale Mulkey at the 20, falling into Beasley’s hands at the 16.
Both picks were by seniors.
“This is all we wanted was for the seniors to leave a good legacy, for the other guys to build off our adversity and in the best way possible, we kept balling and did the things we needed to do,” Ty Beasley said.
Another of perhaps equal significance came on a second-quarter drive just past midfield by sophomore Tavian Davis. Tracy Hughes’ fumble recovery earlier in the half was the first of four Bixby turnovers.
The Spartans finish at 6-4, 3-4 and out of the playoffs on the points tiebreaker. With the win against Edison, Sapulpa (5-4, 3-4) advances on Muskogee’s gift. The Roughers, meanwhile, take a share of fourth place, the knowledge of ending someone else’s playoff hopes and some much-welcome momentum into the offseason.
“I wish Sapulpa all the luck in the world in the playoffs,” Ty Beasley said.
MUSKOGEE 46, BIXBY 42
Bixby 7 14 21 0–42
Muskogee 19 13 7 7–46
Musk-Quintahj Cherry 44 run (Chase Soper kick), 9:44.
Bix- Nic Roller 1 run (Taylor Ruth kick), 3:56.
Musk-Tramal Ivy 72 pass from Cherry (pass failed), 2:56.
Musk-Cherry 7 run (run failed), :51.1.
Bix-JJ Cantrell 29 pass from Marshall Ray (Ruth kick), 10:36.
Mus-Jacouri Freeman 44 run (run failed), 9:06.
Bix-Blake Cooper 19 pass from Ray (Ruth kick), 5:13.
Mus-Freeman 1 run (Soper kick), :36.2.
Bix-Cooper 15 pass from Ray (Ruth kick), 9:14
Bix-Jared Kerr 17 pass from Ray (Ruth kick), 7:48.
Bix-JJ Cantrell 32 interception return (Ruth kick), 6:54.
Mus-Ivy 73 pass from Cherry (Soper kick), 6:00.
Mus-Ivy 92 pass from Cherry (Soper kick), 7:31
First Downs 17 13
Rushes-Yards 46-167 176
Passing Yards 185 313
Passes CAI 10-21-3 14-19-1
Punts-Avg 3-42 4-20
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 8-50 11-88
Rushing: Bixby, Nic Roller 30-109 (TD). Muskogee, Freeman 15-116 (2 TD).
Passing: Bixby, Ray 10-21-3 (4 TD). Muskogee, Cherry 14-19-1 (3 TD).
Receiving: Bixby, Cooper 5-120 (2 TD). Muskogee, Ivy 5-271 (3 TD), Anthony King 7-46.