CUSHING – Cushing High fell behind early and wasn’t quite up to catch up against one of the top teams in Class 4A.
The Tigers were trying to close out the regulars season against a one-loss Tuttle team, but came up just short in a 33-20 loss on Friday night.
Cushing (4-5, 4-2) had already been locked into the District 4A-2 playoffs before the game and were looking to finish the season strong. Tuttle (8-1, 5-1) was coming off of three straight victories and is looking to defend its state championship next week.
Cushing started the game with a three-and-out, allowing for a 61-yard touchdown pass from Cole Battles to Ross Parker to give Tuttle a first-drive lead.
Cushing immediately fought back, marching down the field to score on a 10-yard run by Shelton Davis.
However, Tuttle’s offense was still rolling and drove down the field on a flurry of short passing plays, capping it off with a nine-yard touchdown on an end-around given to Parker.
At this point, the game seemed to be a shootout in the making, but Cushing recorded another three-and-out, giving Tuttle the ball at Cushing’s 43-yard line.
Tuttle marched down the field once again, but Battles fumbled the ball on a run of over 20 yards, turning the ball over again.
Cushing attempted to establish the run game, but Tuttle’s barrage of disguised blitzes stopped it dead, forcing Cushing’s third three-and-out of the quarter.
Tuttle refused to make the same mistake on its next drive, methodically moving down the field on a series of short passes before Battles took it in himself from eight yards out to put it on top 20-7 early in the second quarter.
Cushing received the ball again hoping to bring the score closer, but after three straight running plays up the middle, Tuttle caught on and forced yet another three-and-out. They received the ball at the Cushing 32-yard line after a shanked punt.
Cushing nearly forced a turnover on downs on defense, backing Tuttle into a corner by holding them to a 4th and 15, but Battles completed a 17-yard pass over the middle for a first down, deflating Cushing’s defense.
Battles then threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Ross, expanding their early lead to 27-7.
Cushing improved on its next drive recording one first down, but still punted the ball after the pass rush proved to be too much for it again.
Cushing was able to play with tempo on the last drive of the half as it moved down the field for the first time since the first quarter, but ended up punting the ball yet again before halftime.
Tuttle received the ball after halftime and immediately scored on a 34-yard pass from Battle to Ethan Paxton.
Cushing then fumbled the ball in its own territory, giving Tuttle excellent field position. However, Cushing forced a turnover on downs to quell the scoring effort.
On the next drive, Ross intercepted a ball on defense for Tuttle and ran it back to the Cushing five-yard line, but the offense fumbled the ball on the next play, ending a string of sloppy play for both teams.
After both teams punted once each, Cushing scored on a 27-yard pass to Keaton Crooks. Tuttle punted on the next drive and Cushing scored once more, this time on a five-yard run by Landon Kimmel. All of a sudden, Cushing was only down 33-20 halfway through the fourth quarter.
Tuttle hoped to run some time off of the clock, but Cushing stopped it on defense in time to get the ball back with three minutes left in the game. Cushing drove down the field for about 20 yards before Wil Moyer threw an interception on a deep ball.
That proved to be all that was left of Cushing’s efforts as Tuttle held on to win 33-20.
Cushing coach Rusty Morgan saw the positives in the game as his team prepares for the playoffs.
“A lot of teams see that ‘Tuttle’ written across their chests and know they’re the defending state champions and lay down, but we didn’t,” Morgan said. “I’m proud of that effort.”
Cushing finishes its regular season with an overall record of 4-6 and 4-3 in its district. They will resume play in the 4A-2 playoffs next week.