Cushing Tigers’ coach Barrett Shupe said the team that runs the ball well will have the best chance of winning the game. Friday night at O’Dell Field, Tigers running back Gage Stallworth ran for 200 yards and scored three first-half touchdowns en route to 262 rushing yards and four total touchdowns in a 34-0 victory over the Perkins-Tryon Demons.
“The kids went out and executed,” Shupe said. “The coaches had a great plan and we did what we were supposed to. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Stallworth made his presence known early, gaining 127 yards on nine carries during the Tigers’ first two possessions. In the second half, he threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Ian Jones.
“Every game is a big game for us, being ranked in the top 10,” Shupe said. “Gage gets up for big games. It wasn’t just him. Our O-line played well and our blocking backs played well.”
After P-T punted on its first possession, Stallworth took the Tigers down field on an eight-play, 76-yard drive. The senior running back finished the drive on a 6-yard run for his first touchdown of the evening. It didn’t take long for Stallworth to strike again. Cushing got the ball at its own 49 after the Demons failed to convert a fake punt. Stallworth ran down the sideline to the two-yard line for a 49-yard run. The next play Stallworth punched it in to give Cushing a 13-0 lead.
The Demons (4-4, 2-3) finally looked like they were gaining momentum as a 30-yard run by Jacob Peyton set P-T up at the Cushing 26. Perkins-Tryon drove inside the Tigers’ 15 but fumbled and Cushing’s defensive end Trevor Hubble picked up the ball and ran for an 85-yard return. Sean Bozworth’s extra point gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead at the end of the first. P-T coach Lloyd Wertman said that was the turning point of the game.
“We driving down to make it 14-7,” Wertman said. “They pick up the fumble and run the other way. It was a hard thing to overcome.”
Stallworth scored on a 26-yard run in the second quarter for the only score. Cushing had to punt twice. The Demons punted once and turned the ball over on downs inside Cushing territory.
Perkins-Tryon, which usually has a strong running attack, struggled running up the middle. The Tigers were able to contain quarterback Shelby Reese and running back Tyler Taff.
The only points in the second half were on a pass with Stallworth hitting starting quarterback Ian Jones for a 51-yard touchdown. After that the Tigers punted twice, missed a field goal, were intercepted and fumbled.
The Demons didn’t fair much better as they only had a couple of scoring chances near the end of the game. P-T got within Cushing’s 30 before turning the ball over on downs. At the end of the game, the Demons got inside Cushing’s 10 but let time expire.
“We had some good plays and some bad plays,” Wertman said. “We ran the ball well at times and passed well at times. Our defense only allowed seven points in the second half.”
Cushing out-gained Perkins-Tryon 390 yards to 160. The Demons only averaged 2.3 yards per carry. Jacob Peyton led P-T in rushing with 13 carries for 39 yards. Reese completed 8 of 10 passes for 56 yards.
The Tigers (8-0, 4-0) will visit the Seminole Chieftains for the Class 3A District 2 championship at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Demons will fight for their playoff hopes as they host Chandler at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“We still have a lot to play for,” Wertman said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We need to have a good game at home.”
“It’s the biggest game of the year,” Shupe said. “We have Seminole and Bethany back-to-back. So regardless of what happens, we still need to play well in that last game. We’re excited.”