A tenacious defense, opportunistic offense and solid special teams play contributed to second-ranked Bixby’s 21-7 victory over top-ranked Booker T. Washington in a District 6AII-2 battle last Friday night at Lee Snider Stadium.
The Spartans improved to 4-1 on the season and 2-0 in district play, establishing themselves as the team to beat in the district. The Hornets fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the district, losing to a state team for the first time this season.
Bixby’s defense played one of its better games against a Hornet team that features talented, athletic players. BTW, which finished with six first downs, entered the game averaging 25.5 points per game but were limited to seven points for the second time this season.
“We knew they had all the athletes on the field. I think every wide receiver for them has a D-1 offer,” said Bixby senior defensive back/wide receiver Cade Cavendar, who had six catches for 99 yards and one touchdown. “We executed our defensive game plan tonight and the defensive line was phenomenal. They got to the quarterback all night.
“It was really important since this is my senior year and after losing to them twice last year. I’m proud of the way we played …it’s a good win,” Cavender added.
Booker T. was limited to 111 total offensive yards – 114 passing and minus-3 rushing - and averaged 2.4 yards per offensive play.
“I was proud of our guys, especially our defense. They have so much speed on the field, but we limited some of their big play-makers tonight,” Spartan head coach Loren Montgomery said. “Our defense has been playing well.
“Offensively, we obviously struggled but we made some plays when we had to. It wasn’t glamorous but sometimes when you have two good defenses going after it, it’s not going to be glamorous,” Coach Montgomery said.
Bixby scored the only first half points on its second possession. On the first play, sophomore quarterback Mason Williams rifled a slant pass to speedy junior Brennan Presley for a 35-yard touchdown at the 7:39 mark of the first quarter. Reis Vernon’s point-after kick game the hosts a 7-0 lead.
That would be the halftime score as the Hornets failed to mount a serious drive and Bixby’s Vernon missed a 32-yard field on a powerful kick that missed wide right early in the second quarter.
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Hornets put together their only scoring drive, highlighted by a 57-yard receiver-around pass from Demarco Jones to freshman Gentry Williams.
Williams appeared headed for a touchdown before being tripped up by Spartan senior defensive back Clayton Barbour at the Bixby 11. Two plays later, quarterback Tai Dobbins snuck in from a yard out to tie the game at 7-all with 7:47 showing in the third stanza.
BTW’s score were the first points given up by Bixby’s defense in the last 10 quarters -including back-to-back shutouts against Putnam City and Sapulpa.
Bixby retook the lead as Presley opened the next Spartan drive with a fantastic, tackle-breaking 21-yard run. In the wildcat formation, Presley took the snap and converted on third down by throwing a 33-yard pass to senior Cade Cavender to the Hornets’ 16-yard line.
Williams passed to senior Ethan Hall in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown and a 14-7 Spartan lead with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Vernon kicked the conversion.
The Hornets’ first possession of the third quarter ended when Dobbins fumbled and Bixby’s Tallon Javersak recovered to set up the next Spartan drive at BTW’s 10-yard line. Two plays later, Williams connected with Cavendar for an 11-yard TD pass play and Vernon toed the conversion for a 21-7 lead with 3:22 left in the third stanza.
“We had a great week of practice, a great week of preparation,” said Javersak, a 6-2, 236-pound senior noseguard. “Coach Flowers (Rodney) did an amazing job getting the defense ready to hit them as hard as possible.
“That was my first fumble recovery this season, I also had one last season. That’s a defensive lineman’s dream,” Javersak said.
Senior linebacker Ryan Kerr added, “It felt great. We’ve been waiting a year to play them. I really wanted the shut out, but they had to dig deep into their bag of tricks to get their only touchdown. I feel great about the team right now … and we’ve got room to improve.”
Despite under constant pressure, Williams was 11-of-17 passing for 175 yards and three touchdowns. The Spartans also added 62 rushing yards to finish with 237 total yards.
“That’s one of the best d-lines we’ve seen this year,” said center Carter McAmis, a 5-11, 284-pound senior. “I was really proud of my guys. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done. They have a lot of speed and quickness. When you play a Booker T. team you expect a tough game.
“But, we stuck with the game plan and got the win. I feel like we found out a lot about ourselves this week,” he added.
NEXT GAME - Bixby visits Ponca City Friday, Oct. 5, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. The Wildcats of first-year head coach Scott Harmon fell to 0-5 and 0-2 after losing 32-27 at Shawnee last Friday night.
This season, Ponca City also lost to Enid (20-13), Guthrie (28-14), Collinsville (28-0) and Muskogee (16-7). Ponca City lost at Bixby, 68-7, while finishing 1-9 in 2017.
VERSATILE PRESLEY – Junior Brennan Presley had another productive performance, finishing with two rush attempts for 25 yards, catching three balls for 51 yards and a score, completing a 33-yard pass
out of the wildcat formation and recording an incredible interception off a tipped pass and returning it 34 yards.
“We hadn’t run that play out of that formation and I felt it would work. I knew Cade would go get it,” Presley said of his pass attempt. “On the interception, I saw Cade tip it and it was hanging in the air. I thought their guy had it but I threw my arm in there and the ball landed in my stomach … I just took off.”
Coach Montgomery said of Presley, “Brennan did all kinds of things tonight. He works really hard and deserves success.”
NOTABLES – Twice, Bixby pinned Washington near its own end zone after a Vernon punt. Braylin Presley tipped a punt back to snapper Trevon Holt, who kept the ball out of the end zone and downed it at the two late in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, another Vernon punt was downed at the BTW one. “Reis did a nice job of punting and our punt people – Braylin Presley and Trevon Holt – do a really good job of getting down there. That turned out big. I knew both defenses were good so field position would be crucial,” Coach Montgomery said. …Bixby had no turnovers for the third straight game. …Twice, BTW suffered center snaps over the quarterback’s head for lost yards. … Bixby and Booker T. are the only teams to win Class 6AII state crowns.
DISTRICT SCORES – In other district games last Friday, Sapulpa survived at Bartlesville, 63-58, and Muskogee downed Sand Springs, 45-27. League games Oct. 5 include Shawnee at Booker T. Washington, Muskogee at Sapulpa and Bartlesville at Sand Springs.