In 2011, Grove sent Tahlequah into the offseason with a heart-breaking two-point loss. This year, Tahlequah got even with a 35-20 victory to kick off District 5A-4 play at Doc Wadley Stadium.
“That one felt good,” Tahlequah linebacker Caleb Morton said. “We came out and scored early, and that was our plan: score as many points in the first half as we can.”
With the win, Tahlequah increased its lead in the all-time series to 8-6-1.
More third quarter trouble
The moments right after halftime have been problematic for Tahlequah this season. Friday night was no different.
The Tigers only conjured up only 31 yards on offense in the third quarter. All those yards came on Tahlequah’s only drive in the quarter, after the Tigers’ Brandon Conrad turned the ball over on a punt return with 2:04 left until the fourth.
“It’s frustrating as a coach,” Tahlequah coach Brad Gilbert said. “But again, these kids played extremely well. But I know we have to do something, because I know we’re not going to be able to win games if we keep doing that.”
Despite averaging 22 points per contest, Tahlequah only has seven points in the third quarter combined this season.
Ridgerunners opt to pass
Grove all but abandoned its running game in the second half, instead relying on quarterback Jake Spychalski to orchestrate the offense. Spychalski completed 26 passes — to eight different receivers — on 45 attempts for 269 yards.
The junior quarterback, in addition to tossing two scoring passes, also added a 1-yard TD run in the first half.
5A-4 at a glance
Claremore, East Central and Coweta all joined Tahlequah in the win department in District 5A-4 on Friday.
Claremore topped Collinsville, 34-6, at Sallee Field. The Zebras ran for 201 yards and put the game away with Caleb Webster’s blocked-kick return for a touchdown late in the first half. Collinsville, trailing Claremore 14-6 at the time, attempted a field goal, only to have it blocked and returned 81 yards by Webster.
East Central had no problem with Central, winning the battle of the two Tulsa Public Schools, 33-12. The Cardinals were led on offense by Warren Walker’s 190 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
The closest district matchup of the night resulted in Coweta beating Pryor, 36-27. Coweta, who led 22-20 at halftime, was able to pull away in the second half, outscoring Pryor 14-7.