By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
At the end of Friday night’s game against Enid, Stillwater High School football coach Tucker Barnard was screaming to his players to run to the band. His players looked baffled and immediately went into Chinese fire-drill mode.
That’s what happens when you’re in the midst of a one-win season. You forget some things – like how to celebrate.
But there was a reason to celebrate Friday at Pioneer Stadium as Stillwater shocked the Plainsmen with a 43-27 victory behind 478 yards of offense.
“We are fired up and excited,” Barnard said. “I’m really proud of these guys. They’ve been fighting hard for several weeks now. We’ve challenged them and pushed them, and they’ve been responding. … We saw flashes of the team that we thought we are. This is who we thought we are, and I’m glad to see them play like it and feel like it.”
Whether it was through the air or ground, Jon Littell played the role of conductor beautifully. Along with completing 8 of 12 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns, Littell also had 103 yards rushing on 11 carries — the big one being a 71-yard rumble with 10:13 left in the third to give Stillwater (2-7, 2-4 in district) a 43-20 lead and proved to be the final backbreaker for Enid.
“The line got a huge hole for me, and I just saw some daylight and tried to take off,” Littell said. “Enid’s a good team with a good defense and we were able to spring some long runs, and that was huge to make that another possession ballgame right there.”
Littell was hardly alone. King Williams and Cameron Mayberry also had big runs as the three-headed rushing attack combined for a season-high 341 rushing yards on 38 carries.
“I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think we would be able to run the ball that successfully and probably not to that level,” Barnard said. “I think it was about our attitude, I think it was about our intensity and I think it was just about the way we approached the game for a couple of weeks now.”
It wasn’t all good for the Pioneers. For starters, Stillwater saw a six-quarter puntless streak snapped in the third quarter, amid back-to-back Enid scoring drives.
But that’s about all that went wrong.
Enid (3-6, 2-4) took the early lead with Mason Camp’s 24-yard field goal on the Plainsman’s opening drive, but Stillwater answered as Littell led a six-play, 64-yard drive, kept alive by a 15-yard strike by Spencer Parsons on fourth-and-5. One play later, Littell ended the drive, finding Parsons for a 32-yard score. C.J. Citizen then added a 2-point conversion to give Stillwater an 8-3 lead after one quarter.
“We try to answer every time,” Littell said. “Our kids played very good defensively. To go kind of get a touchdown kind of started to spark some stuff.”
After forcing Enid to punt, Stillwater’s offense continued to roll, putting together another nine-play, 66-yard drive, with Mayberry rumbling into the end zone from 11 yards out to make the score 15-3 a minute into the second quarter.
Stillwater’s defense continued to bend but not break, recording a sack on third-and-four to force Camp’s second field goal. But once again, Stillwater had the answer as Littell found Brandon Prather down the sideline for a 24-yard score, padding its lead to 22-6 with 3:46.
“(The defense) played great,” Littell said. “They played hard all night. (Enid’s) quarterback wasn’t having a whole lot of fun out there and that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to get in their faces. We did that from the first snap and we carried the effort the whole game.”
It looked like Stillwater was content to go into halftime with a 22-6 lead, but King Williams had other ideas. Williams squirted through the line and burst into the open field, scampering 56 yards for the touchdown with 4 seconds left on the clock to give the Pioneers a 29-6 lead at half.
Enid looked like a different team in the second half, forcing Stillwater’s offense to punt for the first time in six quarters on its opening drive.
The Plainsmen then put back-to-back touchdown drives together, the last a 1-yard sneak by Freddie Lawrence that closed the gap to 29-20.
That’s where Littell and crew took over.
Aided by Williams’ 29-yard run to open the drive, the Pioneers drove 55 yards on five plays, the last being a 14-yard strike to Jordan Brown gave Stillwater a 36-20 lead.
Stillwater’s defense gave up some yards Enid ensuing 36-yard drive, but the Pioneers held Frankie Lawrence inches short of the first down on fourth-and-8.
Two plays later, Littell was in the end zone celebrating what would be the final dagger.
“He played like the senior leader we needed him to be,” Barnard said. “We’ve been really impressed with his evolution the last couple of weeks and he did a great job. All the senior did.”
Even when Enid scored late, nothing really could dampen the mood. After all, it was senior night. And what better way to end a career than with a memorable win.