CPHS Football: Sandites fall 59-21 to defending Arkansas State Champions

Senior running back Payton Scott goes airborne in a run against Pulaski Academy. (Photo: Morgan Miller).

Senior running back Payton Scott goes airborne in a run against Pulaski Academy. (Photo: Morgan Miller).

The Charles Page High School varsity football team (0-1) started off the season with a hefty, but unsurprising loss to the defending 5A State Champions from Arkansas. With three gold balls and only three losses in the past five years, Pulaski Academy steamrolled the Sandites with a 31-7 first quarter that was impossible to recover from.

Pulaski 59 CPHS 21.
1Q
Pulaski 31-7.
2Q Pulaski 7-0.
3Q Pulaski 14-7.
4Q 7-7 All.

Passing: Pulaski 36-50-433-0, CPHS 3-14-11-1.
Rushing: CPHS 31-186, Pulaski 28-145.
Plays-Offense: Pulaski 78-578, CPHS 45-197.
First Downs: Pulaski 26, CPHS 6.
Penalties: Pulaski 5-35, CPHS 2-11.

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Last year the Sandites traveled to Pulaski’s home field in Little Rock, Arkansas and were dealt a 56-21 loss. They fared little better on their home turf. The teams played a nearly identical game to the previous year. Pulaski never punted, always going for the fourth-down attempt, and utilized onside kicks for most of the game until they had build a substantial lead. 

Pulaski scored on their first possession, driving 88 yards in nine plays to score on an 18-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Layne Hatcher to Brett Lynch. He sent another strike to Hudson Henry for an 8-0 lead. 

Sand Springs survived the first onside kick as Bryson Denton fielded the ball at the Sandite 49, giving the home team great field position for their first drive. Unfortunately, they weren't able to capitalize on it. After star senior running back Payton Scott was hit for a loss of two, junior quarterback Caden Pennington had his first pass of the night picked off by Brooks Walton. 

Just thirty seconds later, the Bruins had marched 48 yards in three plays as Hatcher took the ball to the house on a six-yard run. Lynch ran in the conversion and the visitors were up 16-0 just four minutes into the game.

The Sandites struck back on their next possession, entirely in the hands of Scott who carried seven times for 22 yards after Braden Millican recovered the onside kick at mid-field and returned it to the Bruins' 22. Senior lineman Zac Blake and sophomore Nicolas Hancock opened big holes in the Bruin defense to clear the way to the endzone. 

Pulaski was just as lethal on their next two drives. First they marched 74 yards in ten plays to score on a 36-yard pass to Lynch, capped by a two-point run from Isiah Woods. Then they recovered their own kick at the Sandite 23 and scored four plays later with a ten-yard strike to Tra Johnson. This time Hatcher settled for kicking his own PAT for a 31-7 first-quarter advantage.

Sand Springs finally got a turnover on downs early in the second quarter thanks to a pass break-up by Joel Mackey, but just a minute later they were punting the ball away after netting only three yards in as many plays.

Pulaski ate up five minutes on the clock as they traveled 87 yards thirteen plays. With a first-and-goal situation at the three-yard line, Luke Bratcher came up big with a three-yard sack, but two passes attempts later and Hatcher hit Henry for six yards and six points. Hatcher followed up with the kick for a 38-7 lead.

Both teams got one more try before going into halftime. 

Sand Springs got the ball to start the third quarter and came up shy once again. The Bruins took it 53 yards and sent it to the house on a 21-yard pass to Henry with another Hatcher PAT. By this point in last year's game, Arkansas rules initiated a running clock mercy-rule for the Sandites. In Oklahoma the Sandites wouldn't have that luxury.

Sand Springs picked up two first-downs on their next drive before mustering out at midfield. Pulaski returned the ball 43 yards with an eight-yard pass to John White and another PAT with 1:40 in the third for the 52-7 lead.

Pulaski celebrated their 45-point lead by sending in the second string, and Sand Springs responded with an 81-yard run by Ben Nortey. The Sandite defense was equally potent against the Bruin B-team, sacking Braden Bratcher on back-to-back plays for a turnover at the Bruin 27-yard line. On the first play of the new possession, Scott took it to the house thanks to a big block from Miron Krotzer to cut the score to 52-21.

Not liking the turn of events, Pulaski sent their starters back out and ran another successful drive, capped by an eight-yard run from Jayden Kelley and kick from Clay James for the final score of 59-21.

Both teams took another shot at the endzone, with Sand Springs coming up short at the 29 with a fumble and turnover on downs. Pulaski returned it to the Sand Springs 34 before the clock ran out.

Sophomore soccer standout Jaden Weiser was perfect in his kicking debut, sending all three point-after attempts straight through the uprights. Cameron Smith took up punting duties for the first time, averaging 40 yards on three kicks. 

Pennington completed three of fourteen passes for eleven yards, while Hatcher took to the air like a bird, completing 34 of 48 passes for 420 yards. Scott handled the brunt of the offense, carrying 23 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns, but Norte led overall with six carries for 97 yards and one touchdown. Jerry Lyons was the man of the night on defense with seven tackles, three for loss, and two sacks. 

Sand Springs will return to action with another home game next Friday against Choctaw (1-0), who trumped Sapulpa (0-2) 27-21 this week. Last year the Yellowjackets won a 45-41 shootout on their home turf against the Sandites, but Sand Springs went on to finish the season 7-5 with a playoff semifinals appearance, while Choctaw broke even at 5-5.

Sand Springs Individual Statistics

Passing: Pennington 3-14-11-1.
Rushing: Norte 6-97. Scott 23-92. Pennington 2-(-3).
Receiving: Millican 1-6. King 1-3. Bratcher 1-2.
Punting: Smith 3-120.
Kicking: Weiser 4-179.
Tackles: Cramer 8. Lyons 7. Edwards 6. Haley 5. Fleischman 4. Askew 4. Mackey 4. Fain 4. Bratcher 3. Tarver 3. Denton 2. Cartwright 2. Moyer 1. Mock 1. Finch 1. Britton 1. Evans 1. 
Tackles for loss: Lyons 3-13. Edwards 1-13. Fleischman 1-12. Fain 1-3.
Sacks: Lyons 2-12. Edwards 1-13. Fleischman 1-12. Bratcher 1-3.
Breakups: Cramer 2. Bratcher 1. Mackey 1. Haley 1. 
Kickoff Returns: Millican 1-28. Scott 1-20.

Pulaski Individual Statistics

Passing: Hatcher 34-48-420-0. Bratcher 2-2-13-0.
Rushing: Kolb 6-55. Kelley 5-36. Anderson 4-27. Johnson 1-20. L. Jones 1-12. Lynch 1-8. Bratcher 4-5. Wise 1-1. Hatcher 5-(-19). 
Receiving: Lynch 8-126. Johnson 8-88. Henry 6-72. Biagioni 3-53. White 6-53. Cumming 1-12. M. Jones 2-10. Cobb 1-10. Wise 1-9.
Kicking: Hatcher 9-266.
Kickoff Returns: White 3-37.