By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The first week the defense let the Stillwater High School football team down. Last week, it was the offense.
This time, it was the special teams.
Two fumbled snaps on punts, the last coming on Stillwater’s 4-yard line late in the third quarter, helped Mustang come away with a 49-26 win Friday at Pioneer Stadium.
“I told the guys that we’ve got to make our own luck,” Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard said. “I know how they feel because we feel the same way. We feel like, how can that happen?”
All in all, Stillwater (0-3) played well enough to win, only turning the ball over once on one of the fumbled snaps, but when you’re in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, these things happen.
“We’ve got to create our own luck by being in the right place enough times and playing hard,” Barnard said.
Despite its special teams woes, special teams actually looked to be a spark for Stillwater’s offense early as the Pioneers struck first, opening the game with a 12-play, 60-yard drive that was aided by King Williams’ 40-yard kick return on the opening kickoff. Minutes later, Cameron Mayberry carried about five defenders into the end zone for the score, giving Stillwater a 7-0 lead early.
“That was really good because our last two games haven’t been like that,” Stillwater sophomore receiver Jordan Brown said.
Mustang threatened to answer on its opening drive, taking the ball deep into Stillwater territory. But this time Brooks Zimmerman had the answer, picking off Frankie Edwards at the 1-yard line.
“I’m a defensive coach, so I feel like when you get one of those stops or one of those turnovers, that’s the time when momentum is going to start,” Barnard said.
Assisted by a bad snap on a punt, the Broncos did manage to get on the board midway through the second quarter. Two plays after taking over on Stillwater’s 16-yard line, Edwards fought off several Pioneer defenders on a 5-yard scamper as Mustang tied the game at 7-7 with Josh Vannoy’s extra point.
Even that didn’t deter Stillwater, as they answered with a five-play, 65-yard drive, capped by Mayberry’s 29-yard scamper on fourth-and-1. Stillwater botched the extra point but still had a 13-7 lead.
“That’s kind of the way we felt, we needed to kind of live that way tonight,” Barnard said of his decision to go for it on fourth down. “We knew it was going to be a battle and we were going to have to get some of those.”
After a third interception, this one by Williams, the Broncos decided to make a change at quarterback. That proved to be beneficial as Chandler Garrett and Edwards, who moved to tailback, helped Mustang put together an eight-play, 72-yard drive capped off by Garrett’s 2-yard run to give Mustang a 14-13 lead.
It didn’t take long for Stillwater to answer as Braxton Noble hit Jordan Brown on a bubble screen. A block by Jon Littell sprang Brown for a 84-yard touchdown with 1:59 left in the half.
That lead didn’t last long as Edwards answered a little over a minute later, breaking free for a 29-yard score on fourth-and-2, giving Mustang a 21-19 lead at halftime.
As good as Stillwater looked in the first half, the Pioneers struggled in the third quarter. After Stillwater gave up a touchdown on fourth-and-7 of the opening drive, the Pioneer offense stalled with a three-and-out. Five plays later, Mustang was back in the end zone as Edwards found A.J. Breasette for an 11-yard strike.
Special teams continued to hamper the Pioneers late in the third quarter as another bad snap gave the Broncos the ball at the Stillwater 4-yard line. Two plays later, Edwards scored his third touchdown on the game with a 1-yard sneak to give Mustang a 42-19 lead.
Mustang then put the final nail in Stillwater’s coffin, putting together a 14-play drive that spanned a little over 10 minutes before Chase Brown scored from 4 yards. Stillwater did answer on a 1-yard score by Braxton Noble with 14 seconds left, but by then it was too little, too late.
Noble completed 20 of 38 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown, while Marlon McDonald had 15 carries for 67 yards. Mayberry also had eight carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns before leaving shortly before halftime with an injury.