For a drive that did not end in points, what the Cushing Tigers did with a few seconds in the first half was a telling part of the game.
Cushing beat the visiting Perkins-Tryon Demons 48-14 on Friday.
On the Tiger drive to close the first half, they were backed up in their territory with 31 seconds remaining until halftime.
The Tigers didn’t have much chance of scoring. They did, though, have junior quarterback Blaze Berlowitz and junior receiver Camden Crooks. That was enough all night.
“We’ve played with each other since we were little,” Crooks said. “We’ve always had a connection. We’ve always been best friends, so it has just clicked.”
Cushing marched all the way down the field but ran out of time in the red zone. They did not score, but the fact that the Tigers didn’t just bleed the clock out showed coach Rusty Martin’s faith in his offensive unit.
“The results speak for themselves whenever they are successful, but I know the work they put in,” coach Rusty Morgan said. “I know how hard they are going to go. I’ll have faith in that until the day I die.”
Martin’s faith was placed well. Cushing scored seven touchdowns in the game and the Tiger passing game was unstoppable.
“We can control the tempo, and we can take over anytime we want,” Berlowitz said.
Cushing first struck with 1:56 remaining in the first quarter. Berlowitz threaded the needle and zipped an eight-yard pass to junior WR Jacob Kimmel for a touchdown.
Berlowitz (25-35) passed for 374 yards. One of his six TD’s came with 8:16 remaining in the second quarter.
He avoided pressure by rolling to his right and lofted a ball to the back right endzone pylon. Crooks coasted in under the ball and caught it neatly for a touchdown to make the score 14-0.
Perkins-Tryon struck back quickly. In fact, the speed of sophomore running back Beck Smith ensured the Demons answer came about as soon as possible. Smith caught the Tiger kickoff and took it up the middle of the oncoming swarm of tacklers and to the end zone.
That was one of two scores the Tigers surrendered. The Demons scored their first offensive touchdown with 8:50 left in the game, breaking a long period of almost flawless defensive play by Cushing.
Morgan said excelling on the defensive side of the ball was an emphasis this week after the Tigers struggled on that side of the ball a week ago.
“We challenged them this week and they definitely answered that call,” Morgan said.
Cushing played defense aggressively, recovering a fumble and forcing multiple turnover-on-downs.
“They played awesome,” Berlowitz said. “They gave us a chance. They got the ball back when we needed it.”
Smith’s kick return made it 14-7, but the Demon deficit would not get any smaller.
Cushing doubled its lead in the second quarter when the 6-foot, 185-pound Crooks scored his second touchdown of the night.
Three minutes before halftime, Berlowitz fired a pass from the Demon 35-yard line. Crooks, who caught 11 passes for 228 yards and three scores, hauled it in and trucked his way to the end zone.
The Tigers efficient play continued, and when Berlowitz threw his fourth touchdown less than one minute into the second half to make it 28-7, the floodgates broke.
Cushing scored four second-half touchdowns. When the Tiger lead swelled in the second half, the pass-first Cushing offense mixed in more run plays. With a few minutes remaining in the game, Berlowitz was relieved of his duties and the backups came in.
“(Berlowitz) is the best QB in the state to me,” Crooks said.
Cushing will travel to Berryhill next Friday for its final non-district game before hosting Tuttle in the district opener on Sept. 24.