By Tommy Cobb
BROKEN ARROW – Warner coach Chris McMullen wasn’t interested in a shutout going into the Eagles’ District A-8 matchup with fellow unbeaten Summit Christian.
He just wanted to slow them down.
Warner’s Kyle Taylor rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles took advantage of five Summit Christian turnovers to take a 60-29 win Friday night as Summit Park.
“A shutout against a team like this is not a realistic goal,” McMullen said. “I told the team if we could just stop them on three possessions and us score, we could win. Forcing a team like this to punt is a key to winning.”
Summit Christian’s Eagles came in averaging 43 points per game. Warner only forced two punts, but the defense came up with four interceptions and a fumble recovery to stop drives. Warner held Summit Christian to just 39 yards rushing, but SCA quarterback Cameron Gilbert kept his team in the game by completing 30 of 53 passes for 368 yards.
“They’ve come from behind against some teams this year,” McMullen said. “They can score in a hurry. What we didn’t want to do was get into a scoring a scoring match. We came up with some key interceptions that killed some drives. We kinda had a bend but don’t break mentality on defense.”
Moving to 7-0 for the first time since 1998 and 3-0 in district play, Warner struggled offensively in the first half and had only a 26-13 at halftime. Big plays in the passing game kept it in front.
A 28-yard pass to Clint Kite from Anthony Carney set up Carney’s 1-yard run that gave Warner a 6-0 lead. Carney then found Dakota Tassey for a 61-yard scoring strike to make it 12-0. Carney found Tassey again on Warner’s next possession for 42 yards. That set up Justin Wright’s 24-yard run, to put Warner ahead 18-0.
“We didn’t do a very good job blocking in the first half,” McMullen said. “We told the kids at halftime to just get back to what has gotten us here. Our offensive line played well and we have some backs that blocked well for each other in the second half.”
Kite’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter made him the fifth different Eagle player to score as Warner took a 34-13 lead. But, SCA (6-1, 2-1) would not go away, taking less than two minutes to cut the lead to 34-21 on Gilbert’s third touchdown pass.
“We didn’t panic,” McMullen said. “We have a lot of experience on this team and they didn’t let it get to them. We point back to the Hulbert game when we were down with four minutes to go. Our kids have confidence in themselves.”
Warner’s confidence showed as it put the game away by scoring on three straight possessions. Jake Leybas, who had two interceptions, returned his second to the Summit 7-yard line to set up a Wright touchdown run that gave Warner a 42-21 lead.
Summit then drove to the Warner 10 before being stopped on downs. Taylor then broke through the line and outran the SCA defense for a 90-yard score. A Blake Leybas fumble recovery set up a two-play drive that put the game out of reach on a 20-yard touchdown run by Briar Campbell that gave Warner a 54-21 lead.
Warner finished with 555 yards of total offense.