GLENPOOL — Fort Gibson head coach Greg Whiteley could have said a lot of things in the halftime locker room after a lackluster second quarter saw the Tigers fall behind 20-13.
But all he said was to have fun.
Fort Gibson used big plays and a stout second-half defense to rally and spoil Glenpool’s homecoming, 34-20, Friday night at Chaffin Sports Complex.
Fort Gibson improves to 2-1 and will open district play next week at Muldrow. Glenpool lost for the first time this season.
“Coach just said to go out and have fun,” said Tiger wide receiver Cade Waggle. “We have a saying — 'gung ho' — which means the team is playing together. We wanted to spoil their homecoming and give them their first loss.”
The Tigers started fast and ended strong. but found itself in a lull in the second quarter.
A 16-yard touchdown pass from Cole Mahaney to Hunter Branch and a 97-yard kickoff return by Waggle gave Fort Gibson a 13-7 lead. But the Tigers sputtered offensively after taking the lead. Meanwhile, Glenpool’s Brayden Nelson took over for the Warriors. Nelson rushed for 149 of his 167 total yards and three touchdowns in the first half as Glenpool built the 20-13 lead.
“We had to get used to how they were blocking for him,” Whiteley said. “We were much improved in the second half. They had a good defensive plan for us that took away our vertical passing game. But we were finally able to run the ball in the second half and finish the game.”
Whiteley said the team needed something good to happen to start the second half. They got it by driving 66 yards on the opening series and tied the game 20-20 when Waggle took a short fourth-and-4 pass and turned it into a 40-yard touchdown.
“The first down was important thing,” Waggle said. “I was able to shake one guy and make another miss and turn it into a touchdown. But I definitely wasn’t expecting to score.”
The defense then came up with a big play when Jaxon Perdue intercepted a Jaiden Johnson pass and returned it 59 yards to give the Tigers a 27-20 lead.
Fort Gibson drove deep into Warrior territory before missing a field goal. Then the defense came up with a fumble to set up the Tigers’ next drive.
Fort Gibson drove to the Glenpool 18 when almost certain disaster turned into a big play. A Tiger fumble was batted up a couple of times before Mahaney came down with it and raced 18 yards for a touchdown that made it 34-20 with 3:54 left.
“Jaxon flies around and makes a lot of tackles,” Waggle said. “He saw that one coming. He is a dog on defense. Cole is always looking to make a play.”
The Warriors finally put together a drive late and cut the lead to 34-26 with 2:01 remaining. But Fort Gibson was able to run the clock down and Mahaney’s punt pinned Glenpool at its own 8 with eight seconds left.
“We were able to run some time off late in the game,” Whiteley said. “Cole had a perfect punt. I liked the way were able to score in all phases of the game.
"We’re pretty good when we just go out and have some fun.”
Mahaney finished with 129 yards passing. Waggle had six receptions for 102 yards. Toby West sparked the rushing attack with 73 yards.
FORT GIBSON 34, GLENPOOL 26
Fort Gibson 13 0 13 7 - 34
Glenpool 14 6 0 6 - 26
Fort - Hunter Branch 16 pass from Cole Mahaney (Jaxon Perdue kick) 6:15
Glen - Brayden Nelson 62 run (Wyatt Coats kick) 5:36
Fort - Cade Waggle 97 kickoff return (kick fail) 5:23.
Glen - Nelson 21 run (Coats kick) 0:00.
Glen - Nelson 4 run (kick fail) 0:51.
Fort - Waggle 40 pass from Mahaney (Perdue kick) 9:04.
Fort - Perdue 59 interception return (Perdue kick) 4:55.
Fort - Mahaney 18 fumble return (Perdue kick) 3:54.
Glen - Manny Garza 6 pass from Jaiden Johnson (run fail) 2:01.
First downs 15 14
Rushes-yards 35-133 29-239
Passing yards 129 188
Passes C-A-I 10-19-1 15-28-2
Punts-avg 2-31 3-32
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 6-41 7-70
Rushing: Fort, Toby West 21-73; Glen, Brayden Nelson 12-167 (3TD).
Passing: Fort, Cole Mahaney 10-19-1 129 (2 TD); Glen, Jaiden Johnson 15-27-2 188 (TD).
Receiving: Fort, Cade Waggle 6-102 (TD); Glen, Braxton Garrett 2-56.