The No. 4 ranked Charles Page High School varsity football team (0-2) had No. 7 Choctaw (2-0) right where they wanted them for most of the game, but despite impressive performances from most of the Sandites, the visiting Yellowjackets came from behind midway through the fourth quarter for a 21-20 victory Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Choctaw 21 CPHS 20
1Q CPHS 7-0
2Q Choctaw 7-6
3Q All 7-7
4Q Choctaw 7-0
Passing: Choctaw 17-27-222-1, CPHS 6-18-39-1.
Rushing: CPHS 48-254, Choctaw 33-86.
Plays-Offense: Choctaw 60-308, CPHS 66-293.
First Downs: CPHS 17, Choctaw 15.
Penalties: Choctaw 10-59, CPHS 4-40.
Fumbles/Lost: Choctaw 1/0, CPHS 0/0.
For the second-straight year, an under-ranked Choctaw dealt a top-five Sandite team an upset loss for an 0-2 start to the season. Last year the Sandites recovered from their 0-2 start to finish 7-5 with a Playoff Semifinal appearance. This year's team has a lot of the ingredients for a successful season, but first they have to figure out their passing game.
For the first half of the game, junior quarterback Caden Pennington was five yards long on his receivers for most pass attempts. In the second half he hit them dead-on, but they dropped the ball both literally and metaphorically.
While the passing unit figures out their game, running backs Payton Scott and Ben Nortey are picking up the slack, combining for 250 yards on the evening. Scott, 5'5" 180-pound senior and wrestling State Champion, accounted for 214 of those yards, marking the third-best performance of his career. He scored two of the Sandites' three touchdowns.
Sand Springs got off to a good start, holding Choctaw to negative yardage on their first possession, then marching 69 yards in twelve plays to score on a six-yard Scott run with 7:37 in the first quarter. J.T. Bristow snapped the ball to Pennington who held it for Jaden Weiser's kick, and the Sandites were up 7-0.
The Sandites next two possessions came up dry while Choctaw's first four were all fruitless. On their first possession of the second quarter, Choctaw looked to be building some momentum. They picked up two first downs and 33 yards before junior line backer Hayden Cramer got the first Sandite pick of the season, returning it six yards before being brought down.
It looked like the Sandites might squander their good fortune after a sack and a bad pass put them third and twelve at the 25, but Scott came to the rescue with a fifteen yard run through a hole opened up by Nicolas Hancock for the first down. Two plays later, Pennington connected with Dash Fleischman for a seven-yard touchdown reception, his first of the season. Unfortunately for the Sandites, Weiser's point-after attempt was blocked, and it would come to haunt the home team.
Trailing 13-0, Choctaw pulled it together for a 71-yard march and 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hudson Woods to Zane Coleman, accompanied by a kick from Jacob Dunning to cut the deficit to 13-7 before the half.
Both teams failed to convert on their first possessions of the second half, but on their second try Sand Springs powered their way downfield behind Scott, Norte, and the Ford-tough offensive line where Scott leaped over a dogpile for a one-yard touchdown. This time Weiser's kick rang true and the Sandites were back out front at 20-7.
The Yellowjackets were quick to retaliate as Woods connected with Ethan Crews from 21 yards out just two minutes later.
In the fourth quarter Choctaw took their first lead of the game, and the only lead that counts. With a 36-yard passing catalyst, the Yellowjackets pushed 90 yards in twelve plays. Dunning's kick gave Choctaw the one-point advantage that should have simply tied things up.
Sand Springs didn't go down without a fight. Scott ran for 33 yards in five plays, setting up the Sandites at the 27 yard line. Scott took the handoff, pitched it back to Pennington, who heaved it at the endzone into the waiting arms of his receiver. The only problem was, it wasn't his receiver. Instead of a friendly Sandite, he found Tae Gibbs who promptly returned the ball all the way to the Sandite 25. A block in the back returned it to the Choctaw 18, but possession remained theirs and the clock was winding down.
After holding Choctaw to seven fruitless possessions, the Sandite defense was finally out of gas. Woods picked up three first downs to drain the clock before finally taking a knee at the fifty yard line to seal the deal.
The Sandites will return to action next Friday with their first road game of the season at No. 11 Putnam City West (1-1). Choctaw will take on Putnam City North (1-1) who hammered the Patriots 30-7 Friday night.
Sand Springs Individual Statistics
Passing: Pennington 6-18-39-1.
Rushing: Scott 40-214, Nortey 6-36, Pennington 2-4.
Receiving: King 3-18, Millican 1-9, Fleischman 1-7, Scott 1-5.
Punting: Smith 6-219.
Kicking: Weiser 2-71, Smith 1-51.
Tackles: Edwards 11, Fleischman 9, Cramer 7, Fain 4, Bratcher 4, Mackey 4, Lyons 3, Finch 3, Haley 3, Wright 1, Denton 1.
Tackles for loss: Finch 2-7, Fleischman 1-4, Cramer 1-3, Fain 1-2, Edwards 1-1.
Sacks: Finch 1-6.
Breakups: Lyons 1, Cramer 1, Shipman 1.
Kickoff Returns: Denton 2-43, Bratcher 1-15, Adcock 2-9.
Interceptions: Cramer 1-6.
Choctaw Individual Statistics
Passing: Woods 17-27-222-1.
Rushing: Woods 21-65, Curry 10-19, Navarro 1-6, Nealy 1-(-4).
Receiving: Coleman 3-60, Navarro 3-52, Crews 2-36, Curry 3-25, D. Armstrong 2-21, C. Armstrong 3-16, Moore-Johnson 1-9.
Punting: Crews 5-158.
Kicking: Zook 4-184.
Kickoff Returns: C. Armstrong 3-55, Navarro 1-3.