By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Sand Springs Sandites (4-3, 4-1) dominated the Muskogee Roughers (3-5, 3-2) on all fronts Friday night in an astonishing 34-10 win, beating the spread by nearly two touchdowns. Hunter Greathouse surpassed 1000 passing yards for the season with 8 passes for 108 yards on 15 attempts. Two Sandites surpassed 500 rushing yards for the season: Lane Lettich picked up 110 rushing yards to reach 567, and Payton Scott carried for 74 to reach 521.
The Sandite defense was outstanding. Five secondary players had tackles for losses totaling 22 yards, Delvin Jordan accounting for half of that with an 11-yard tackle-for-loss. Jacob Taber picked up a 1 yard sack, Ty Fain had two TFLs totaling 5 yards. Most impressive was Jason Cooper with three interceptions, one for a touchdown that was called back due to a penalty.
The Sandites came into the game undefeated on their own turf, riding a three win streak with only one true loss (two others were forfeitures-by-technicality). Though Muskogee had been performing solidly all season, they were totally unprepared for the hell-raising Sandites who established their fifth consecutive win over the Roughers, though Muskogee leads the series 20-5.
It was a slow starter for both teams—though it was apparent who had the edge. Sand Springs completed five first downs in the first period and held the Roughers to only 11 total yards, though neither team scored.
Sand Springs threatened early on. Their first drive came to a halt at the Sandite 46, but a stellar punt by Kasey Bales was downed at the 4 yard line, giving the Roughers little room to work. Cruz Desjarlais tackled Muskogee runningback Molijah Gilbert for a loss, Parker Taylor broke up a pass from quarterback Quintahj Cherry, and a third attempt also fell flat.
A short punt gave Sand Springs possession at the Muskogee 28 and the Sandites picked up a fourth and short for the first down deep in Rougher territory. Unfortunately for the Sandites, it was the Muskogee secondary’s time to shine as Darius Lewis picked off a Greathouse pass for a 84 yard touchdown. The score was called back due to a block in the back and Muskogee took possession at the home team’s 34. Penalties would come to play a huge part in this game for both teams, but ultimately it was Muskogee who got the short end of the stick.
Jason Cooper got his first pick of the night four plays later and once again it looked like the home team would be first to draw blood, driving to the Muskogee 15 before the ball was turned over after a failed fourth and goal screen to Trace Fleischman.
Despite 102 yards of total offense, the Minutemen had been held scoreless in the first period.
To add insult to injury, it was Muskogee who would find the endzone first on a 39 yard reception by Jamari Davis on the first drive of the second quarter.
The famous Sandite magic presented itself and Muskogee was caught off-sides on kickoff and had to kick from their 35. Fleischman picked up a phenomenal 56 yard return, and a personal foul by Muskogee gave Sand Springs half the distance to the goal.
On the first play of the drive, Greathouse scored on a 15-yard keeper to tie things up less than two minutes into the quarter. Bales was perfect on PATs for the night and the Sandites had found their mojo.
Malachi Walton downed the kickoff receiver at the Muskogee 32 and the Roughers were pushed back to their 22 after a holding penalty. On second and 20 Jason Cooper grabbed yet another interception, this time making it to the endzone before being called back due to a holding call. The touchdown was reversed, but the interception was not. Six plays later, Lettich was piled into the endzone on 2nd and short for the touchdown and Sand Springs had taken the lead once and for all.
Muskogee made their way to the Sand Springs 5 yard line on the first drive of the second half and Mikey Rodriguez kicked a 22 yard field goal to even things out to 14-10 and it looked like it might continue to be a close game. Instead, Sand Springs decided to run away with it.
After a chop block penalty, Sand Springs found themselves 2nd and 23 where Greathouse connected to Bales for 8, then found Fleischman for 19. A facemask by Muskogee gave them first and goal and Lettich registered his second touchdown of the night on a 6 yard run for a 21-10 lead with 4:34 in the third.
Muskogee failed to convert a first down and Sand Springs got the ball at their 22. The boys were running holes right through the Muskogee line. Greathouse picked up 7 yards on a keeper, then handed it off to Lettich for 19. Payton Scott started to get some more action and carried six times in that drive for 22 yards and a 9 yard touchdown with 10:30 left in the game.
Once again Muskogee was unable to convert, and were completely unprepared for a 52 yard punt return by Parker Taylor to their 8 yard line. The Rougher secondary was able to put up some big stops against Lettich, but Greathouse finally snuck it into the endzone on fourth and short for the final score of the night. A fumbled snap during the point-after attempt kept things at 34-10 with 6:16 left.
Muskogee converted their only two first downs of the fourth quarter on the next drive, but it came to halt as the seemingly-magnetized ball found Cooper’s arms once more after being overthrown by Cherry and tipped off the receiver. Sand Springs drove 43 yards to half-field, then assumed victory formation for the final three snaps to claim their spot as the number three team in District 1.
It’s easy to forget that the Sandites should really be 7-1 right now, had the Guthrie game not been cancelled with Sand Springs dominating, and the two forfeitures. While the Sandites aren’t grabbing the headlines the way Bartlesville and Booker T Washington are, only a fool would count them out of the race for the state title. All it takes for Sand Springs to make the playoffs now is for Muskogee to lose to Booker T and Bixby by 15 points each.
There’s only two games left in the regular season for the Sandites and each opponent has been ranked #1 at some point this season.