BARTLESVILLE, Okla. —
All week, Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard asked his team to play a complete 48 minutes against Bartlesville.
For 43 of those minutes Thursday, Stillwater played about as well as Barnard had hoped. It’s the final five Barnard might like to have back.
Stillwater quarterback Jon Littell was intercepted three times over the final five minutes, the first a 57-yard touchdown return by Bartlesville defensive back Slade Nordic, as the Bruins defeated the Pioneers 31-6 Thursday.
“At that point, we were kind of in desperation mode,” Barnard said. “I don’t put that on Jon. We had some protection issues. We had some busted route issues.”
Those three interceptions may have been the deciding factor for Stillwater (1-6, 1-3 in district), but they were far from the norm.
From special teams to passing struggles to the occasional defensive lapse, both teams seemed out of sync. It was opportune timing that doomed the Pioneers.
“It’s not completely one person’s fault,” Stillwater junior defensive lineman Dayton Campbell said. “It’s a team sport, so it’s a team effort. And we just didn’t execute as a team.”
Bartlesville struck first on its opening drive, driving nearly the entire length of the field before the Stillwater defense buckled down and forced the Bruins to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Henry Cone.
After both offenses struggled to get much going offensively, Stillwater had a chance to even the score thanks to a 57-yard run by King Williams, but with 7:14 left in the second Zach Bryant’s 35-yard field goal sailed wide left.
Even after the miss, Stillwater’s defense continued to bail out the Pioneers. Colton Penrod tried to scramble for the first down on fourth-and -11 inside the Pioneer 30-yard line, only to be stuffed a yard short, giving the ball back to the Pioneers with 4:54 left in the half.