By Andrew Glover
CUSHING, Okla. —
Perry coach Cameron Bennett said the key for his team was to limit Cushing running back Gage Stallworth and sustain offensive drives. The Maroons did neither — Stallworth gained 142 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns in the first half alone, finishing with 166 all-purpose yards and scoring another touchdown in the second to propel the Tigers to a 41-15 victory.
“We killed ourselves,” Bennett said. “We were there in a couple spots and we killed ourselves that’s all there is to it. It was a different ball game. Second half we showed a lot of life and improved a lot.”
The only time Stallworth was stopped was on the first play of the game when he fumbled and gave the Maroons the ball at the Cushing 30. On the next offensive possession, Stallworth broke a 23-yard touchdown run. The senior running back scored on runs of 12 and 4 yards in the first half. At the end of the first half Stallworth caught a 23-yard pass for a touchdown. Stallworth finished the game with 143 yards rushing. The Tigers rushed for 217 yards. Cushing coach Barrett Shupe said his team did a great job running the football.
“I thought we came off the ball well,” Shupe said. “I thought our backs ran well. We were sloppy with the two turnovers and we can’t do that. I felt we were ready to play from the start. That’s what we focused on all week.”
The Tigers also had a strong performance from quarterback Ian Jones. Last week Jones only threw five passes. Friday against Perry, he completed 9 of 13 attempts for 113 yards and one touchdown, which was on a fourth and two. Jones also made play with his legs picking up 48 yards on eight carries.
“He grew up a tonight a little bit,” Shupe said. “We challenged him. There was one fourth down that he missed and we will get on to him for that. Overall he threw the ball over the middle really well. He threw some outside routes well. He was efficient. He can run with the football and that adds a dimension that we haven’t had. The sky is the limit. I think he has some confidence now.”
Cushing’s defense also made plays. On Perry’s second possession, Keegan Myers intercepted a Cooper Skluzacek pass and returned it for a 23-yard touchdown. On the first play of the Maroons’ next possession they fumbled, and the Tigers’ Trevor Hubble recovered and gave Cushing the ball at the Maroon 25. Shupe said his defense set the tone.
“We worked all week on getting better on our fits and being more sound and the kids did a good job of that,” Shupe said. “The defensive staff did a great job. We felt like we matched up well with what they did offensively and it was going to allow us to make plays.”
Perry turned the ball over three times in the first half and their longest drive in terms of yardage was 15, on the first possession of the game which ended on turnover on downs. The Maroons only had one yard of total offense as they rushed for minus-6 in the first half.
With the game well out of the reach, Perry was finally able to move the football gaining nearly 200 yards in the second half. Skluzacek, who was ineffective passing the ball broke a 34-yard run down the middle of the field to get the Maroons on the board in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter freshman running back Kolby Mendenhall broke a 45-yard run. Mendenhall finished with 108 yards on 11 carries. Bennett said that’s how his offense is supposed to execute.
“That’s our goal,” Bennett said of his team gaining 200 yards in the second half. “That’s what we strive for and we have to continue to get better.”
The Maroons (1-1) face Anadarko in Perry Friday. The Tigers (2-0) host Cleveland.