By Murray Evans
MOORE – Mistakes, Muskogee coach Josh Blankenship told his team, can be corrected, and that was the good news for the Roughers on a Friday night filled with them.
Muskogee turned the ball over five times in the first half — leading to three Westmoore touchdowns —and committed a whopping 20 penalties for 178 yards. Predictably, No. 5-ranked Westmoore took advantage of those errors by the Roughers to roll to a 48-7 win at Moore Schools Stadium.
But Blankenship still was able to praise his team for its effort — something he thought was lacking the previous week in a 65-10 loss to Broken Arrow — in a fiery postgame speech.
Playing with effort “was really the focal point, to come out and compete a little harder,” he said. “We had been getting better every week. We took a step back last week. I was proud to see them come out and compete tonight. We had a lot of mistakes, obviously, and we’re not playing very good football, but I’m pleased with how hard we played tonight.”
Muskogee (0-5, 0-2 in District 6A-2) is winless through five games for the first time in the program’s proud history, but there’s a light at the end of that tunnel. With two of the district’s three behemoths behind them, the Roughers now can focus on next week’s game against Tulsa Edison and look to build some momentum in a bid to perhaps snare the district’s fourth playoff berth.
“We’ve done this before,” Blankenship said. “They watched it play out the same way last year. We knew we controlled our own fate. If we can go rip off four wins in district play, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to make that fourth spot in the playoffs. That’s what we’re playing for right now. It’s right in front of us. … I think they’re ready.”
There were a handful of bright spots for Muskogee against the Jaguars. Senior receiver Anthony King caught 12 passes for 109 yards and was the most productive receiver on the field, which is saying something considering Westmoore’s rising star, Dahu Green (five catches, 93 yards, two touchdowns) also was playing.
Also, Tracy Hughes blocked one of Westmoore’s extra-point attempts, and the Roughers marched 82 yards in the closing minutes to avoid the shutout on a 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Quintahj Cherry.
“It was real important to get a drive like that,” King said. “There’s still some stuff we’ve got to work on, but we really fought.”
Kieron Hardrick carried 16 times for 61 yards and three touchdowns for Westmoore (5-0, 2-0), which led only 7-0 entering the second quarter but then poured in on to take a 34-0 halftime lead. Thanks to Muskogee’s turnovers and one long punt return, the Jaguars started their first five possessions in Muskogee territory.
After Cherry fumbled at his own 7, Hardrick scored his second touchdown. Green then caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Bryson Lee to make it 20-0. A 27-yard run by Hardrick put the Jaguars up 27-0 and Jaylen Bennett returned an interception 35 yards for another score with 46 seconds left in the first half.
Green’s second touchdown catch, a 23-yarder, made it 41-0 in the third quarter and Lee added a 3-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter for the Jaguars. Lee completed 13 of 19 passes for 207 yards.
Cherry completed 15 of 29 passes for 140 yards for the Roughers, but threw three interceptions.
WESTMOORE 48, MUSKOGEE 7
MHS 0 0 0 7–7
WHS 7 27 7 7–48
WHS – Kieron Hardrick 1 run (Austin Dodd kick), 8:37
WHS – Hardrick 1 run (Dodd kick), 9:03
WHS – Dahu Green 8 pass from Bryson Lee (kick blocked), 5:21
WHS – Hardrick 27 run (Dodd kick), 1:27
WHS – Jaylen Bennett 35 interception return (Dodd kick), 0:46
WHS – Green 23 pass from Lee (Dodd kick), 7:46
WHS – Lee 3 run (Dodd kick), 10:42
MHS – Quintahj Cherry 7 run (Chase Soper kick), 2:55
Frist Downs 14 19
Rushes-yds. 30-93 38-129
Passing yds. 140 207
Passing C-A-I 15-29-3 13-19-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-yds. 20-178 11-112
Rushing – MHS: Jacouri Freeman 20-58; WHS: Kieron Hardrick 16-61 3 TDs.
Passing – Quintahj Cherry 15-29-3; WHS: Bryson Lee 13-19-0 2 TDs
Receiving – MHS: Anthony King 12-109; WHS: Dahu Green 5-93 2TDs