By BEN JOHNSON
PARK HILL — Cody Cole channeled his inner Christian Worthington on Friday night.
Cole, Keys’ senior tailback, rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries as the Cougars blasted Spiro, 42-7, at Cougar Stadium in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Cole’s performance comes almost a year to the date that Worthington torched Valliant. Also in the first round of the playoffs, Worthington had a monster night, racking up 213 yards on 19 carries while keeping Keys’ season alive.
“We were pretty close, and I kind of look up to his as a mentor,” Cole said of Worthington. “I just try to go off of what he taught me.”
With the win, Keys advances to the second round where it’ll face Metro Christian on Friday night.
“I pulled my groin early in the game, but I fought through it and kept going,” said Cole, whose team advances to the second round of the 3A playoffs for the second straight season.
“We just have to give out what we’ve got left and move on to next week.”
Cole didn’t waste any time setting a tone against Spiro (6-5). He carried the ball 11 yards on the first play from scrimmage and eventually totaled up 70 yards on five carries on the Cougars’ opening drive.
Cole’s offensive cohort, quarterback Trevor Eubanks, would cap off Keys’ opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, and the Cougars would never trail from that point on.
“I felt like if we kept up our opening pace right there, it was going to be a good night,” Cole said. “The lineman kept doing what they were doing and the receivers were blocking. We just had to keep a steady pace.”
Spiro didn’t do itself any favors, either. The Bulldogs turned the ball over on their first play from scrimmage on a fumble.
Three plays later, Keys (7-4) was in the end zone on Eubanks’ 11-yard touchdown run.
And the rout was on.
“Too many mistakes early, and they whooped our butt up front,” Spiro coach Chris Bunch said. “They, offensively, just whooped our defensive line.”
After deferring to Eubanks on Keys’ first two scores of the night, Cole found the end zone on a 26-yard run to give the Cougars a 19-0 lead with 3:48 left in the opening quarter.
Keys tacked on two more scores in the second quarter, when Eubanks added a 1-yard touchdown run before tossing a 22-yard TD pass to Cole to inflated the Cougars’ advantage to 33-0, which would be the halftime score.
Keys would end up scoring on all five of its possessions in the first half.
“Our guys were focused up, and it’s time to do that,” Keys coach Gary Willis said. “Both sides of the ball and special teams, everyone was pretty solid tonight.”
The Bulldogs — which beat Checotah in the final week of the regular season by feasting on four Checotah turnovers — found themselves on the wrong end of the turnover battle this week. Spiro ended up handing the ball over three times (all on fumbles) to the Cougars, who scored touchdowns after each Bulldog turnover.
“I would have liked the final score to be better than this,” Bunch said, “but we didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing.”
The opportunistic Cougars came up with their third takeaway right after halftime, when Spiro fumbled on the second play of the second half. Three plays later, Cole galloped for a 13-yard touchdown — his team-leading 19th of the year.
“They did have mistakes and that’ll kill ya,” Willis said. “We’ve been on that side of that.”
The Cougars, now on a three-game winning streak, abused Spiro to the tune of 316 rushing yards. Eubanks, who also completed 4 of 5 passes for 59 yards, joined Cole in the 100-yard rushing club with 104 yards on 19 carries.
“After watching film, we thought we could run,” Willis said. “And the lineman did a good job.
“When we came out we wanted to be able to run the ball, especially with this wind. I didn’t want to throw much and thankfully we didn’t have to.”
Spiro, a force a week ago in holding Checotah to 32 rushing yards, was powerless against Keys’ ground attack.
“Half the time, we didn’t line up right,” Bunch said. “That made a big difference, and our kids didn’t do what they’re supposed to do. When that happens, you don’t play good.”
Cole made sure to give his offensive line a tip of the cap.
“I could ask for better from my lineman tonight,” Cole said. “I was really proud of them. They’ve stepped up a lot these last couple of games.”
Spiro’s lone touchdown — a 10-yard pass from Trevon Mitchem to Knifeis Carter — came midway through the fourth quarter with the game already decided. The Bulldogs only mustered 164 yards of total offense.
Now, much like last year, Keys will head to Tulsa with a chance to qualify for the 3A quarterfinals. Last season, though, the Cougars were dominated by eventual 3A runner-up Cascia Hall.
“We know they’re going to be tough,” Willis said of Metro Christian, which hammered Henryetta, 41-8, to advance to the next round. “We’ll go see; our boys are up for it. They knew who they’d probably get and they’re excited.”
Keys 42, Spiro 7
SPI 0 0 0 7 -- 7
KEYS 19 14 7 2 -- 42
KEYS — Trevor Eubanks 3-yard run (JJ Ozturk kick failed), 8:13.
KEYS — Eubanks 11-yard run (conversion failed), 6:47.
KEYS — Cody Cole 26-yard run (Ozturk kick), 3:48.
KEYS — Eubanks 1-yard run (Ozturk kick), 6:28.
KEYS — Cole 22-yard pass from Eubanks (Ozturk kick), 0:23.
KEYS — Cole 13-yard run (Ozturk kick), 10:12.
SPIRO — Knifeis Carter 10-yard pass from Trevon Mitchem (Hunter Wilson kick), 6:58.
KEYS — Mitchem tackled in end zone for Spiro safety, 3:41.
First downs 12 23
Rush 3 18
Pass 6 4
Penalty 3 1
Rush Att-Yds 18-27 50-319
Pass Comp. 10 4
Pass Att. 26 6
INT’s thrown 0 0
Passing Yards 137 59
Total Yards 164 378
Punts-Avg. 3-41.7 4-39.3
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 1-0
Penalties-Yds 5-40 12-90
Spiro: Jermaine Jimmerson 7-32, Trevon Mitchem 7-11, TEAM 4-(-16).
Keys: Cody Cole 24-199, Trevor Eubanks 9-104, Josh Ferguson 3-14, Garret Willis 4-2.
Spiro: Mitchem 10-26-0 137.
Keys: Eubanks 4-5-0 59, Willis 0-1-0 0.
Spiro: Knighe Rhoden 3-38, Knifeis Carter 2-28, McKinley Whitfield 2-20, Jimmerson 2-10, Malik Walker 1-41.
Keys: Cole 2-31, Tyler Hunter 1-14, Jesse Haeberle 1-14.