Like the weather, the Muskogee offense and defensive lines started a little cold and slow Friday night.
But both turned up the heat in the second half and the third-ranked Roughers remained undefeated on the season, breaking from a 14-6 halftime lead to roll past No. 5 Sapulpa 34-6 Friday night at Indian Bowl.
Despite the fact that the Chieftains were playing without their star quarterback Eli Williams who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, Sapulpa gave Muskogee all it could handle early on.
“Give them a lot of credit in that first half,” said Muskogee head coach Rafe Watkins. “But we also made some mistakes that cost us points too.”
Specifically, Watkins recalled, there was the personal foul on Ty (Williams) when Muskogee was inside the Sapulpa 10 yard-line, coming away empty and also a dropped TD pass.
“But we made some adjustments at halftime and the kids bought into it, and we did what we were good at and that’s running the football,” Watkins went on to say.
And run they did as Jimmie Coleman carried 27 times for 286 yards and four touchdowns including scoring jaunts of 34 and 90 yards.
“We came out a little slow but in the end we finished real well,” said Coleman, who went over the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season with his effort. “I think we let the weather get to us a little in the first half but we overcame that in the second half and pushed them back good.”
No one got on the scoreboard until the last play of the first quarter when Coleman capped a 60-yard, nine play scoring drive with a three-yard run to make it 7-0. Sapulpa took the ensuing kickoff and put together their best drive of the night going 59 yards in 11 plays with sophomore quarterback Zac Mason going over from a yard out. The extra point was blocked and the Roughers maintained the lead at 7-6. But the drive would prove costly for the Chieftains as running back Wyatt Hall left the game after a big hit by Roughers linebacker Caleb Webb and would not return.
Ty Williams had a hand in series of turnovers later in the quarter. He showed why several Division I schools are interested in his defensive abilities as he wrested a pass away from a receiver for an interception. But on the next play as the Rougher quarterback, Williams underthrew a pass that was picked off, only to turn around three plays later and make his seventh interception of the season, killing a Sapulpa drive into the red zone.
That interception gave the ball to the Roughers at their own 20 and it took them just six plays to go the distance with Coleman dashing the final 34 yards for a 14-6 halftime lead.
Line play was a topic of discussion in the Muskogee locker room at the break.
“We were very passive in both the offensive and defensive lines in the first half. We were standing and catching blocks instead of re-establishing the line of scrimmage,” said Watkins. “We made those corrections in the second half, we played much more physical and the offensive line pushed our will on them and that’s why we dominated the second half.
“Most of the time the team that dominates in the trenches wins the game. It’s not rocket science.”
On their second possession of the second half the Rougher offense looked more like the team of the first five weeks, grinding out a seven-play, 75-yard drive that never saw a third down situation. Coleman took it in from the 3. The extra point was blocked and it was 20-6.
After Sapulpa missed a 45-yard field goal attempt on their next possession, Coleman took off on his 90-yard cross-country touchdown run to make it 27-6. Sapulpa fumbled on their next possession, setting the Roughers up at the Chieftain 32. Senior Maurice Chaplin, in his first varsity action of the season, scored from three yards out for the final Muskogee score.
The Roughers rushed for 368 yards on the night and added another 128 through the air on 7-of-14 passing by Williams, while the defense limited Sapulpa to 70 yards of offense in the second half and just over 200 for the game to go 6-0 on the season and 3-0 in District 6AII-2.
Penalties were again a problem for Muskogee with 11 flags for 120 yards.
Next up for the Roughers will be a fall break Thursday night district encounter next week at Shawnee.
MUSKOGEE 34, SAPULPA 6
Muskogee 7 7 13 7—34
Sapulpa 0 6 0 0—6
MHS- Jimmie Coleman 34 run (Jacob Scheihing kick), 0:00.
SHS-Zac Mason 1 run (kick failed), 11:00.
MHS-Coleman 34 run (Scheihing kick), 1:20.
MHS-Coleman 3 run (kick failed), 3:46.
MHS-Coleman 90 run (Scheihing kick), :23.
MHS-Maurice Chaplin 3 run (Scheihing kick), 11:00.
First Downs 20 13
Rushes-yards 47-368 28-57
Passing yards 128 151
Passes (CAI) 7-14-1 18-27-2
Fumbles-lost 0-0 4-3
Punts-avg 1-35 2-32
Penalties-yds 11-120 5-35
Rushing: MHS, Coleman 27-286; SHS, Hall 11-30
Passing: MHS, Williams 7-14-128-1; SHS, Mason. 18-27-151-2.
Receiving: MHS, Bradley 4-45; SHS, Kenyon Kahmeyer 7-90