By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Sand Springs varsity football team defeated Ponca City last Thursday in a 44-21 home-field beat down. Sandite QB Hunter Greathouse connected on more than half of his 15 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns—one to Kasey Bales and one to Lane Lettich. Sophomore Payton Scott was the star of the show, rushing for a season-high 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, the most of any player on the team in a single game this year.
Sand Springs Senior Jacob Fortune started the game with a 50 yard kick off, the first of five kickoffs inside the Wildcat 20. Blane Locke returned the ball to the 21 where he was brought down by Jason Cooper. The first possessions for each team set the pace for the entirety of the game, as Ponca picked up only 4 yards before Mitchell Wilson punted it away less than two minutes into the game.
Sand Springs began clicking offensively immediately and needed only 11 plays to travel 50 yards for a touchdown. On third down, Greathouse connected to Bales in heavy coverage for a gain of 17, then found him again to pick up another 5. Lettich punched in the first down on a 14 yard rush, then on third and 12, Greathouse found Ty Fain for a 12 yard pass for first and goal at the six. Lettich was the first to draw blood, finding the endzone on a four yard carry.
Kasey Bales kicked the point-after, and was five of six for the night.
Ponca returned the kickoff to their 31, but once again failed to convert and Sand Springs got the ball back at the Ponca 44. Fleischman picked up two first downs rushing, then Scott broke contact twice to find the endzone on a 19-yard touchdown with 2:43 in the first and a 14-0 lead.
While the Wildcat offense was unable to convert in the first quarter, the defense finally held off Sand Springs, forcing three incompletions and Bales punted for a touchback.
The Wildcats found themselves in dangerous territory when Delvin Jordan blocked a punt to start the Sandites out at the Ponca 15. Lettich set the home team up for first and goal, but a fumbled hike nearly handed the ball back to Ponca. Greathouse managed to get on top of it at the 18, however, and after a brief timeout, screened to Lettich for an 18-yard touchdown and a 20-0 lead after a missed PAT into a powerful headwind.
Better late than never, the visiting offense finally managed to find some first downs. QB Conner Larson and RB Dexter Arita combined for 35 yard rushing, aided by an offsides penalty against the Sandites and a 7 yard rush from Riley Dilbeck. Then Larson teamed up with the younger Arita brother, Darrell, handing it off four times for 18 yards before finally putting points on the board with a 5 yard keeper. Wilson’s PAT brought things to 20-7 with 4:54 in the half.
Sand Springs was jamming on the next drive. Bales picked up a 20 yard punt return, and Scott single-handedly rushed from the SS30 to the Ponca15. The incredible 9-play drive came to a disappointing end, however. A lateral to Scott came up dead at the line of scrimmage. Next, Greathouse was flushed from the pocket, unable to find a receiver, and barely picked up three for third and 7. Scott had another impressive rush, but fell just short of a first down and Ponca took over possession at their 6 with half a minute in the half.
Sand Springs came out of the half firing as Fleischman picked up 21 yards on a kickoff return. Lettich rushed for three and Greathouse found Jake Ward for four on a screen. Lettich broke through the line for 7 yards and a first down.
Greathouse tried to take to the air on the next play, but instead of a receiver it was Wildcat Austin Fry who swooped in for a 48 yard pick-six to close the gap to 20-14 less than two minutes into the half.
Sand Springs didn’t give their guests long to celebrate, however. Fleischman brought the kickoff back to the 35 and four plays later, Scott found an opening for a 45 yard touchdown. The Bales’ PAT brought it back to a two-touchdown game with 8:27 in the half.
The infamous Sandite D was next to show off. Jaxon Starling tackled Dexter Arita for a loss of 6 on the first play of the drive. The secondary was bloodthirstily ravaging the Ponca line on the next play and as the pocket began to collapse, Larson attempted a screen. Delvin Jordan collided with the receiver like an asteroid, knocking the ball loose for a Sandite recovery. The pass was officially ruled incomplete, but the Sandites had made their statement.
Sand Springs received the punt at their 13 and converted immediately as Andrew Biggs and Harold Dodson created a hole for Lettich to pick up 12 yards.
Lettich found another 13 on the next play, then Scott snagged 2 before Greathouse took to the air and connected with Bales for a 46-yard touchdown and a 34-14 lead.
The secondary gave up only two yards on the next Ponca drive and the runningbacks were back to work. Lettich rushed for three first downs, aided by some big blocks from Lincoln Adams and the rest of the O-Line, a 7 yard reception by Josh Taber, and a 6 yard run by Scott. The offense used the last six minutes of the quarter to march 44 yards to the Ponca 31 as the clock expired.
The first play of the final period, Fleischman picked up 31 yards for a touchdown and Bales tacked on the PAT for a 41-14 lead.
Darrell Arita had a rough time on the next Ponca possession. Cruz Desjarlais broke up a long deep pass intended for the wide receiver, then Brett Freeman laid him out at the line of scrimmage on the next play. A third pass attempt fell incomplete and 33 seconds after scoring, the Sandites would get yet another opportunity.
By this point in the game, Sand Springs was beginning to shuffle in the JV squad and Sophomore Ben Norte began running up some solid yardage. His first rush picked up 11 before the ball came loose and Fain managed to recover it at the 41 for an extra 5.
Scott continued to dominate on the ground, taking the ball on the next 5 plays for 29 yards, setting up Bales to kick a 22 yard field goal. Sand Springs had reached the same amount of points they scored the week before against Sapulpa, Payton Scott had surpassed 200 rushing yards in the game, and Kinard brought the majority of the varsity crew home to check off another dominating Sandite win.
Ponca finally made some headway now that they were playing the Sandite JV, but they would only manage one more score, a 6 yard pass to Darrell Arita for a touchdown and from there the game ground to a halt.
The Sandites had definitely out-athleted, but did they execute? This Friday they will take on the Muskogee Roughers at home in a game with major playoff implications. If the Sandites fail to beat the Roughers, it will take nothing short of a miracle for them to make it to the post season. To overcome Muskogee, they’ll definitely need to clean things up. The Roughers won’t fail to capitalize on three fumbles the way Ponca did. Sand Springs is the favorite in this matchup, but both teams are riding three-straight wins. The action goes down at 7:00PM at Memorial Field in Sand Springs—you won’t want to miss it!