Stillwater News Press

October 19, 2012

Gage Stallworth propels Cushing past Perkins-Tryon

Tigers running back racks up 347 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.

By Andrew Glover

PERKINS, Okla. — For the first time in the history of the State Highway 33 rivalry, a lot was riding on the game for the Perkins-Tryon Demons and the Cushing Tigers, with second place in the district at stake. In a hard-fought battle, it was Cushing which was able to pull away in the fourth quarter and claim a 42-27 victory.

“It’s exciting,” Cushing coach Barrett Shupe said. “Last year we were a yard and a half short on a two-point conversion against Glenpool for the district title. We talked all summer about getting that yard and a half. We have to have a good week. Coach (Mike) Snyder does a good job. We got our hands full.”

“Hats off to Cush, they got a good football team,” P-T coach Lloyd Wertman said. “(Gage) Stallworth is a quality back. We knew that. … It was a heck of a ballgame for three quarters then the wheels came off.”

It was the Tigers’ first victory in the rivalry since 2006, snapping a Demon five-game winning streak. The win puts Cushing in position to clinch the district title next week against Seminole.

The Demons held a 27-21 lead in the fourth quarter. Cushing quarterback Bingham Hightower completed two screen passes to Stallworth for 45 yards. Stallworth rushed for a 15-yard gain to P-T’s 5 where he finished the drive with his third touchdown. Senior kicker Brett Helm converted the extra point and put Cushing ahead 28-27 with 10:04 left.

Stallworth was the source of Cushing’s offense in the second half as he rushed for 243 yards on 26 carries and scored all four of the Tigers’ touchdowns. The junior running back finished with 347 yards. Shupe said they made an adjustment in their formation.

“Coach (Ty Bullock) made a great adjustment,” Shupe said. “He looked to see where their outside linebackers were lining up and we made a change with our receivers. It opened the middle up and our offensive line wore them down.”

Stallworth said he couldn’t take all the credit, thanking his blockers.

“The line helps,” Stallworth said. “Without a good line none of this happens.”

The Demons looked like they were going to come back and reclaim the lead. Sophomore quarterback Zac Bledsoe broke a 47-yard run down the sideline setting P-T up at the Cushing 15. Jacob Peyton fumbled and Cushing recovered. The Tigers put the ball in Stallworth’s hands and he finished the drive with a 4-yard run.

P-T had a couple of chances to drive for a potential tying score. Its first drive ended with a punt. Stallworth fumbled on the next possession, giving the Demons the ball at midfield. Perkins turned it over on downs as Matt Waitt was tackled a yard short of the marker. Cushing put the game away with a fifth touchdown run by Stallworth. Shupe said his team has a mentality of finishing in the fourth quarter.

“We practice fast and run fast,” Shupe said. “This is crazy. We have a power running back and we still are fast and it wears opponents down. Our kids don’t give in. We are able to rotate a lot on the defensive line which keeps our offensive line somewhat fresh.”

It was a slow start for the offenses. The Demons’ night couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start as Bledsoe fumbled the opening snap and Cushing’s Levi Murray recovered and ran it back for a 42-yard touchdown. Perkins-Tryon’s special teams evened the score as junior Waitt sprinted down the sidelines for an 85-yard punt return.

The Tigers scored the first offensive touchdown as Stallworth broke a 41-yard run up the middle. The Demons answered with junior Tyler Taff breaking a 33-yard run for a touchdown.

Cushing looked like it was going to re-take the lead but the drive stalled inside the Demons’ 30 as Hightower’s fourth-down pass was incomplete. Thanks to its short passing game, P-T put together one more scoring drive. Bledsoe completed passes to Waitt and junior Shelby Reese. The Demons tried a long pass downfield which fell incomplete but Cushing was called for pass interference, giving P-T the ball at the Tigers’ 30. Bledsoe made the Tigers pay with a short pass to Waitt, who took it 30 yards for a touchdown and a 20-14 lead.

The Demons visit Chandler 7:30 p.m. next Friday.