It was far from a crisp performance, but Bixby’s unbeaten Spartans used a strong third period showing to turn back pesky Ponca City, 49-3, in front of a large homecoming crowd at Lee Snider Stadium last Friday night.
Bixby, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 6AII, improved to 6-0 on the season and raised the District 2 record to 3-0. The Wildcats of second-year head coach Scott Harmon fell to 3-3 overall and to 1-2 in the district.
The Spartans - who played without senior standout Brennan Presley, who was held out because of an injury - seized control early and dominated the final statistics. But, in between, penalties, mistakes and the Wildcats’ defensive game plan caused problems.
“It was kind of a sloppy game. They mixed up coverages and caused us a few problems. There were a lot of penalties … it seemed like there was a flag on one of us all the time,” Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery said.
“They had a good game plan. Coach Harmon slows the game down and he’s going to take the things you do really well away. He’s doing a great job at Ponca City,” Coach Montgomery added.
Ponca City was forced to punt on its first possession and the Spartans wasted little time scoring - taking advantage of a 21-yard punt return by sophomore Braylin Presley and a personal foul penalty on the Wildcats.
Two plays later, junior quarterback Mason Williams hit Corbin Steele for a 12-yard touchdown pass and Reis Vernon kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead. Two possessions later, Bixby went up 14-0 after Williams hit Alex Stadler with a 30-yard touchdown pass and Vernon again kicked the point-after with 1:21 showing in the first quarter.
At the 11:53 mark of the second quarter, Bixby used a 29-yard touchdown pass play from Williams to senior Luke Creeger and a Vernon point-after boot to increase the lead to 21-0.
It looked like that would be the halftime score before the Wildcats picked off a Williams pass at the Bixby 40 with 2:12 left before intermission. A pass interference penalty on the Spartans and two other Bixby penalties aided the Wildcat drive which stalled at the Bixby 10 with two seconds left.
Spencer Ball kicked a 27-yard field goal for Ponca City’s only points, narrowing the margin to 21-3 at halftime.
The Spartans put halftime adjustments into action early in the second half, scoring on a 40-yard run by Presley and a three-yard TD scramble by Williams to lead 35-3 with 5:24 left in the third quarter.
Presley later found daylight returning a punt 54 yards for a touchdown and a 42-3 Spartan lead with 2:27 remaining in the third quarter. Senior Corbin Steele, playing quarterback, finished the scoring parade when he ran to his right, reversed his field and outran the Wildcats to the corner of the end zone from six yards out for a fourth quarter touchdown. Vernon converted after each second half score.
“I’m glad we came out and executed well in the second half and we got to see some young guys play well. But I’m not thrilled with it. If it wasn’t for mental errors, they wouldn’t have had any points on the board,” Coach Montgomery said.
“We jumped offsides on third down to make it more manageable for them and we had a couple of penalties to help them get the field goal or we would have had another shut out.”
Presley aided Bixby’s 396 yards of total offense by rushing nine times for 120 yards and a touchdown. He also caught one pass and recorded his first punt return for a touchdown.
“They are a great defense. We studied them and knew what we needed to do. We knew it would be hard to run against them, but we came out prepared and blocked well,” Presley said. “With Brennan being out I knew I needed to pick up the slack, not only for Brennan but for Bixby Spartan football.”
Williams passed for 141 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-21 passing while Stadler, a senior, finished with a career-high seven pass receptions for 119 yards and one score.
“We knew Brennan probably wouldn’t play so me and Corbin (Steele) got a lot of reps in practice. We prepared all week in practice and I think we did well tonight,” Stadler said. “It was definitely a career night for me. To do it on homecoming was probably the best night to do it and winning 49-3 was good, too.
“The first half we came out thinking we were a better team and we quickly found out they were competitive with us, so we knew we had to play better.”
Bixby averaged 7.9 yards per play and had a balanced attack, featuring 188 yards passing and 208 rushing. Eight penalties for 85 yards, a turnover and mistakes hampered the offense.
“The first half was rough, we had a few missteps on the line and some of that was my fault. Offensively, we were having a hard time,” said senior Dalton Perry, a 6-2, 240-pound offensive lineman. “In the second half we came out and gave it all we had and put up some points.
“At halftime, the coaches came in and drew up some plays and showed us what we did wrong. They did a few things different, but they did mainly what we saw on film. They are definitely better than they were last year,” he said.
“We’re mixing people around on the line trying to find the best five. Come playoff time, I think we’ll have a solid unit and we’ll definitely have some depth since we have some younger guys stepping up.”
NEXT GAME – Because of fall break, Bixby travels to Bartlesville Thursday, Oct. 17, for a District 2 game. The Bruins (1-5, 1-2) outscored visiting Sand Springs (2-4, 1-2), 54-34, for their first win of the season last Friday night.
“The film we’ve seen on Bartlesville, they don’t look bad at all,” Coach Montgomery said. “They are extremely well coached.”
In last year’s game in Bixby, the Spartans built a 30-0 halftime lead before outscoring the Bruins 28-6 in the third quarter in romping to a 65-6 district victory. Bixby finished with 723 yards of total offense in the 2018 game, averaging 9.2 yards per play.
Quarterback Mason Williams was 23-of-30 passing for 321 yards and four touchdowns; Braylin Presley rushed 10 times for 100 yards and two TDs, and Cade Cavender caught seven passes for 122 yards and two scores.
NOTABLES – Ponca City picked up its initial first down at the 10:33 mark of the second quarter. … The Wildcats were limited to 46 yards of total offense by the Spartan defense and victimized by 11 penalties for 96 yards. … Ponca City punted 11 times. … Bixby is riding an 18-game winning streak. …The Spartans were ranked No. 52 nationally by MaxPreps Sports entering the Ponca City game. … Josh Surman was named Homecoming King and Kaylee Blankenship was named Homecoming Queen during ceremonies prior to kickoff.
DISTRICT SCORES – In other Class 6AII-District 2 games last Friday, Sapulpa (4-2, 1-2) fell at Muskogee (6-0, 3-0) by a score of 34-6, and Tulsa Washington (3-3, 2-1) rolled at Shawnee (1-5, 0-3), 36-13.
NON-DISTRICT SCORES – Bixby’s non-district opponents results: Mansfield (Texas) Timberview (4-2) routed Dallas Samuell, 49-0, last Thursday night. Friday, Jenks (3-3) romped at Yukon, 68-14, and Putnam City (1-5) dropped a 29-3 decision to visiting Midwest City.