By Nick Snow
TULSA, Okla. —
Stillwater High School football coach Tucker Barnard made no bones about it — the game against Booker T. Washington was a game the Pioneers should have won.
Instead, defensive miscues at the end of the third quarter helped the Hornets come away with a 41-22 victory Friday at S.E. Williams Stadium.
“We should have won this football game tonight,” Barnard said. “We got blown out of a football game that we should have won and it’s because we didn’t protect the football offensively, we didn’t execute and defensively we didn’t make plays on the ball. We’ve got to get better. Our coaches have got to get it fixed in practice so that we can win football games.”
Washington (4-2, 2-1 in district) scored two touchdowns in the final 19 seconds of the third quarter — the last on a 57-yard fumble return by James Caligone — to turn what was a 21-19 game into a route.
“It’s never a good feeling when you give up two touchdowns like that,” Stillwater senior defensive lineman Garrett McBroom said. “We just have to keep our heads in the game and try and make plays. We just have to bounce back from it.”
The night started on a decent note for Stillwater (3-3, 1-2 in district) as McBroom intercepted Bennett White’s pass and took it 35 yards for the game’s first score.
“We had seen it on practice,” McBroom said. “I saw him drop back and look my way, and I was pretty much just waiting for it. It was awesome and I was super excited.”
That — along with two other interceptions — were the bright spots for Stillwater in what Barnard called a below par night for the Pioneer defense.
“We were really rolling on defense for a lot of the first half but then we had a couple of bad things happend,” Barnard said. “We’re not mentally tough, and it really hurt us tonight.”
After Washington scored 14 unanswered points, senior Chuck Neal brought the Pioneers to within one on a 21-yard touchdown run before senior Matheus Barbosa’s extra point was blocked.
Washington then added to its lead when White found Robert McQuarters for a 5-yard strike 19 seconds before halftime to give the Hornets a 21-13 lead.
Stillwater had the chance to tie the game when sophomore quarterback Taggart Brown found fellow sophomore Brandon Prather for a 64-yard strike. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the Pioneers down 21-19 with 2:41 to play in the third quarter.
“That really got us pumped up,” Brown said. “Everybody was hyped up and we were ready to make the comeback.”
That’s when things went horribly wrong. Washington put together a 5 play, 80 yard drive capped off with Tarik Brantley hauling in a 55-yard strike from White. On Stillwater’s ensuing possession, Caligone ripped the ball from Neal and took it all the way back for a touchdown as time expired in the third quarter.
Barbosa added a 36-yard field goal, but in the end it wasn’t enough as Stillwater dropped it’s second straight district game.
“We were disappointed in the way we played,” Barnard said. “The bottom line is we weren’t mentally tough. That falls on us as coaches and the players themselves. I know, as coaches, we’re going to do everything to make sure that they’re mentally tough for Bartlesville.”