By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
Charles Page High School junior Payton Scott scored a career-high five rushing touchdowns in only three quarters of play Friday night at Custer Stadium, leading the Sandites to a dominating 47-28 district win over Bartlesville.
No. 2 ranked Sand Springs (6-3, 4-1) clinched a playoff berth for the fifth-straight year with the victory over No. 13 Bartlesville (3-5, 2-3), and notched their first win at Custer Stadium since 2008. Despite a close loss to No. 3 Booker T. Washington (5-4, 3-2) last week, the Sandites still have a chance at the district title if they can defeat No. 4 Bixby (6-3, 4-1) next week on the road. Bartlesville still has a game left at Booker T., and will have to win to make the playoffs.
The game started out fairly close as the Bruins rallied shortly before the half to close the deficit to 25-21. Sand Springs rattled off 22 unanswered points in the third quarter, however, and sent in the backups to finish out the game.
The home team struck first with a seven-play, seventy-yard drive that scored on a four-yard run by Deandre Young. The visitors didn't need long to tie it, however, driving eighty yards on seven plays to score on a three yard run from Scott. Alejandro sent in the point-after to tie things up with 7:06 in the first.
The Sandite Defense was brutal throughout the evening, and held the Bruins' next possession to fourth and three to force a punt. The offense needed only three plays, all of them through Scott, to take the lead once and for all. Scott picked up seven yards on a run, and after failing to connect with a screen pass from Hunter Greathouse, ran another 54 yards for the score. Hernandez's kick was blocked, but the Sandites lead 13-7.
The two teams traded punts, then Tre Finch forced a fumble that was recovered by Nathan Simonton to give Sand Springs possession to close the first quarter. Scott scored shortly into the second period on a seven yard run. Kasey Bales faked a point-after kick and Greathouse attempted a two-point pass to tight-end Dash Fleischman, but the ball sailed high out the back of the endzone.
Bartlesville hit pay-dirt on their next possession, hustling sixty yards on six plays to score on an eleven-yard pass to A.J. Archambo. Andre Johnson sent in the kick and cut the score to 19-14.
The Bruins attempted an onside kick, but Caleb Wash secured the ball and returned it eleven yards to set up a 68-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard pass to Dalton Morgan for a touchdown. Morgan was also the intended target for a two-point pass attempt that fell flat. With 2:18 the Sandites were sitting comfortable at 25-14, but the home team wouldn't go down without a fight.
Bartlesville drove 75 yards to score on their next possession in nine plays. After back-to-back sacks from Finch and Gage Fain pushed the Bruins back to third and 26 from the 36, it looked like Sand Springs would hold them. That's when Bartlesville brought out the big play. Garrett Meidl sent a sixteen-yard pass forward to Archambo, who lateraled to John Cone. Cone picked up ten yards, then pitched the ball to Young who took it to the house. The point-after cut the deficit to 25-21 with only seconds remaining, and the Bruins went to the locker room feeling good.
It was Sand Springs who came out of the half with renewed vigor, however. On the first drive of the second half, Scott picked up his fourth touchdown of the evening on a six yard run. The Bruins fumbled the opening handoff their possession and Luke Bratcher got the recovery, setting up Sand Springs for yet another scoring drive.
This time it was Bales who found the endzone on a 22-yard reception from Greathouse. He sent in his own extra-point and the visitors lead 38-21.
The next Bruin possession failed to convert a first down and the Sandites got the ball at their 31. Scott picked up 62 yards on that possession and ended with a 33-yard run to score his final points of the evening.
On the next Sandite possession they settled for a 23-yard field goal after being held to fourth and six, and Hernandez put them up 47-21 with under a minute in the third quarter.
By the fourth quarter the Sandites were running second and third string and Scott didn't see any further action. Greathouse took a few snaps, but only attempted one pass before sophomore Caden Pennington came in. Tyler McCallie took over for Scott.
The Sandites held off the Bruins till there were just moments to play when they finally gave up a twelve-yard run to Lard with 0:19 left. Greathouse returned to take a knee for the final play and end the game 47-28.
Greathouse finished the evening 12 of 23 for 102 yards passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Bales was his leading receiver with five receptions for 48 yards. Scott racked up 221 yards on 31 carries, the second-highest performance of his career.
Meidl lit up the air for the Bruins, completing 19 of 32 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Archambo was the leading receiver with 11 receptions for 119 yards, while Lard led the ground with 8 carries for 72 yards.
The Sandites have one game left in the regular season, and it will be a tough one as they travel to No. 4 Bixby (6-3, 4-1), who just shutout Booker T. 28-0. If they win that game, they'll get their first district title since 1997. Win or lose, they're headed to the playoffs for the fifth-straight year, the longest streak in Sandite history.