Tahlequah did everything right from start to finish Friday against Tulsa Will Rogers on homecoming night at Doc Wadley Stadium.
The fourth-ranked Tigers, now 4-0 overall, set the tone on the opening kickoff, scored 48 points in the first half and closed with a 57-0 win in their District 5A-4 opener.
"We talked about wanting to make a statement no matter the opponent we played," Tahlequah head coach Brad Gilbert said. "You do that by going out and executing and being sharp and crip, and we did that tonight. We're excited about what we did and it's always good to get everybody out there and get some experience. Everybody works really hard so it's good for them to have their opportunity and it's a good feeling to be able to do that."
It was dominance in all phases.
"It was a complete game," Gilbert said. "We executed in all three phases. It goes back to what we talked about all week and what's most important is ourselves. It was exciting to see."
Senior Dae Dae Leathers continued to dazzle and did so right away on a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. In limited playing time, Leathers later added a four-yard touchdown run to cap a 27-point first quarter for Tahlequah.
Quarterback Tate Christian threw his first of two TD passes to receiver Simeon Armstrong at the 5:12 mark of the opening quarter that put the Tigers up 20-0. Tristan King was on the receiving end of Christian's other scoring toss, a 57-yarder on the first play of the second quarter that gave the Tigers a 34-0 edge.
Tahlequah also had a nine-yard touchdown run by Kobey Baker after Baker had an interception to set up a short field. Running back Malik McMurtrey had a one-yard scoring run to make it 41-0, and defensive back Qua'shon Leathers returned an interception 52 yards for a TD to complete the scoring in the first half.
"We wanted our older guys to make a statement to the point where our younger guys can get in there," Gilbert said. "They came out and did that."
The Tigers also played their cleanest game of the season, totaling just four penalties.
"We talked about that going in," Gilbert said. "We had three pre-snap penalties last week, but we were clean tonight."
In the second half, the Tahlequah defense had a safety, and running back Carson Ferguson had a three-yard TD run.
Defensively, Tahlequah allowed just 46 total yards of offense, forced five punts and had three turnovers. The other turnover came on an interception by Matt Munoz. The Ropers, now 0-4 and losers of 31 straight games, were 0 for 9 on third down conversions.
Leathers had 46 rushing yards on a limited six carries to lead the ground game. Christian completed 4 of 6 passes for 73 yards and two scores, and King had two catches for 55 yards.
McMurtrey finished with 30 yards on the ground on 11 carries, and Tanner Christian added two receptions for 37 yards.
The Tigers will remain home next week when they host Skiatook. The Bulldogs (2-2, 0-1) suffered a 38-30 loss at Pryor (3-1, 1-0) on Friday.
In other 5A-4 games, No. 7 Collinsville defeated 10th-ranked Claremore, 28-20, and Tulsa East Central defeated Tulsa Memorial, 52-6.