By LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON
COLLINSVILLE — Two halves, two different stories.
After playing a clean first 30 minutes and holding the Class 5A No. 9 Collinsville Cardinals to a 7-7 tie, the proverbial wheels fell off for the Tahlequah Tigers in their last half of football for 2012, as they gave up 21 third-quarter points en route to a 40-21 loss at Sallee Field.
In the first half, the Tigers did not turn the ball over and racked up 153 total yards of offense, including all of 12 yards passing. Their defense did not allow a third-down conversion and stopped the Cardinals on a fourth-down attempt in the second quarter, setting up an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
Then halftime hit.
Three Tahlequah penalties on the Cardinals’ opening possession of the third quarter, including a personal foul on third-and-13, allowed Collinsville to sustain the scoring drive that would put them up for good, scoring the go-ahead touchdown at the 7:30 mark of the third quarter.
The Tigers’ first turnover of the night — a David Dick interception deep in Collinsville territory — came on the next possession as an added morale killer for the Tigers.
“We had some momentum going and that kind of broke that,” Tahlequah coach Brad Gilbert said. “And then they continued to just make plays and go down the field.”
The Tigers took an additional blow in the fourth quarter when Tyler Eisensmith sustained a late out-of-bounds hit at the end of a 22-yard kickoff return. Eisensmith spent several minutes on his back on the ground before being helped to the bench on the sideline. The senior did not return to the game and, according to Gilbert, has played the last four weeks with an ankle fracture.
Despite the loss, the Tigers’ offense had a bright spot for the night. After being held to 48 yards on 21 carries in Week 9 by East Central, senior running back Mason McMillan ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns, breaking Tahlequah High School’s single season rushing record. During the 2012 season, McMillan ran for 1,241 yards.
“It’s been a goal of mine for a long time and I have to give all the credit to my O-line,” McMillan said. “They really came out for me tonight. I was happy about that, even though we lost.”
“He’s been committed to the program,” Gilbert said. “It couldn’t have happened to a better young man. That is something the team can be proud of.”
With Friday night’s loss, Tahlequah (1-9, 1-6 District 5A-4) ends the 2012 season in seventh place in District 5A-4, extending its playoff drought to 11 seasons and road losing streak to 10 games.
Collinsville secured third place in District 5A-4 in Week 9 and will travel to McAlester (6-4, 6-1 District 5A-3) next week for the first round of the playoffs.
TAHLEQUAH 0 7 0 14 21
COLLINSVILLE 7 0 21 12 40
Collinsville — TJ Johnson 28-yard reception (Athen Shambrook kick)
Tahlequah — Mason McMillan five-yard run (Alberto Ramirez kick)
Collinsville — Carter Rasmussen 19-yard reception (Shambrook kick)
Collinsville — Dylan Cook 11-yard run (Shambrook kick)
Collinsville — Johnson 26-yard reception (Shambrook kick)
Tahlequah — McMillan two-yard run (Ramirez kick)
Collinsville — Ryan Haymaker nine-yard run (kick blocked)
Tahlequah — McMillan 39-yard run (Ramirez kick)
Collinsville — Iannapollo 61-yard run (kick failed)
Team stats Tahlequah Collinsville
First downs 12 17
Rushes-Yards 35-279 43-244
Passing yards 41 173
Comp-att 3-14 11-18
Interceptions 1 0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Punts-average 3-12.3 2-17
Penalties-yards 6-63 2-22
Tahlequah — Brandon Conrad 3-43, David Dick 11-82, Mason McMillan 20-155
Collinsville — Dylan Cook 1-12, Connor Crutchfield 13-44, Connor Fry 1-5, Ryan Haymaker 1-9, Derek Iannopollo 11-105, Keenan Priddy 2-4, Kenny Smith 2-12, Hunter West 4-6, Shane Wilkins 1-5
Tahlequah — Dick 3-14-1 41
Collinsville — Iannopollo 11-18 173
Tahlequah — Ben Lamb 1-10, Kourt McMillan 2-31
Collinsville — Crutchfield 1-11, TJ Johnson 6-50, Carter Rasmussen 1-19, Nick Salazar 1-17