FORT GIBSON – An ugly win is still a win.
Fort Gibson sputtered at times but the Tigers were able to lean on their defense, as they forced three Tulsa McClain turnovers, and hold off a pesky Titans team 22-6 at Leo Donahue Tiger Stadium Friday night and improved to 6-0, continuing its matching of the 2014 team that was unbeaten to this point.
“They’re the fastest team we have seen so far this season, so we knew it was going to be ugly tonight,” said a bloodied Tiger head coach Greg Whitley. “We did enough to get some plays and get the win tonight against a very fast, unconventional defense.”
Whitley got his right shin ripped open while getting tangled up on defensive play on the sideline midway though the fourth quarter.
In the absence of starting running back Deven Woodworth, who is serving a one-game suspension and back =up Kamaron Clopton out for undisclosed reasons, the Tigers went to a two-man rotation in the backfield. Junior Tim Murphy racked up 86 yards rushing on 19 touches and Morice Ford chipped in 61 yards rushing on 13 carries.
“Once we got going, we ran the ball well tonight with Morice and Tim, they ran tough and worked hard,” said Whitley. “Their defense was giving us fits, but our kids worked their tails off.”
The Tigers’ offense sputtered on their first possession after tossing an interception on the Titian 21-yard line. However, Fort Gibson’s defense countered, forcing two Titan interceptions and one fumble in the first half of play, the first coming at the end of the first quarter, that led to the Tigers first score.
A seven-minute, 15-play, 64-yard drive put the Tigers on the board first with a Cole Mahaney 1-yard plunge with 8:24 to go in the second quarter and the home team up 7-0. The drive was kept alive when Murphy bulled his way through for a 3-yard run on a fourth and-2 to end the first quarter.
Defense again rose to the occasion for the Tigers on the Titan’s next possession when Tiger Senior linebacker Jacob Hess snagged former Hilldale quarterback Jay Porter’s pass at the McClain 35-yard line and returned it to the 20, putting Fort Gibson in prime real estate, Six plays later, Ford scampered in from six yards out pushing the Tigers lead 13-0 with 2:47 left in the second quarter.
On the Titan’s ensuing possession, the Tigers’ Hunter Branch made a diving interception at the Fort Gibson 38-yard line on Porter’s first pass attempt of the series. Three plays later, Mahaney found a streaking Cade Waggle for a 34-yard touchdown strike and push the Tigers up 19-0 with 1:59 to go before the half.
After three successful drives, Fort Gibson began to stumble due to penalties. Ford busted off a 20-yard run to the McClain 3-yard line near the end of the half, but a holding call pushed the Tigers back to a fourth-and-16 and turnover on possession.
The Tigers racked up 85 yards in penalties in the second half, 115 overall for the game, thus keeping the offense off balance in the second half.
“We kept getting ourselves behind the chains with holding penalties, blocking in the back, silly mistakes that we know better, and it got us out of our game plan,” said Whitley. “We have got to get that cleaned up as we are heading into toughest part of our schedule.”
Fort Gibson finally got some offensive rhythm figured out late in the fourth quarter, as they embarked on a 13-play, five-minute drive that ended with a Jaxson Purdue 34-yard field goal and push their lead 22-0 with 3:43 left in the game. The drive as kept alive on a fourth and 10, when Branch pulled in a 15-yard toss from Mahaney, his only catch of the night.
The Tigers will travel to Sallisaw next Thursday.
FORT GIBSON 22, TULSA MCLAIN 6
Fort Gibson 0 19 0 3—22
Tulsa McLain 0 0 0 6—6
FGHS – Cole Mahaney 1 run (Jaxon Purdue kick), 8:24.
FGHS – Morice Ford 6 run (pass fail), 2:47.
FGHS – Cade Waggle 34 pass from Mahaney (pass fail), 1:59.
FGHS – Purdue 34 FG, 3:43
MHS – Malichi Kington 5 run (pass fail), 1:27.
First downs 18 15
Rushes-yards 41-174 31-140
Passing yards 84 95
Passes C-A-I 7-17-1 12-24-2
Punts-Avg. 3-48 2-44
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 10-115 5-55
Rushing: McLain, Jay Porter, 14-66. FGHS, Tim Murphy 19-86, Ford 13-61 (TD).
Passing: McLain, Porter 12-24-95-2. FGHS, Mahaney, 7-17-84-1 (TD).
Receiving: FGHS, Cade Waggle 3-45.