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Pride Of The Ada Cougars: 42-26
10/06/19 -

McALESTER — In a game that featured 37 first-quarter points, 34 penalties totaling 293 yards and several huge plays, the Ada Cougars finally eased past archrival McAlester 42-26 Friday night at Hook Eales Stadium.

Ada broke out of a two-game funk in impressive fashion, improving to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in District 5A-3, while McAlester dropped to 1-3 and 1-1.

“It’s kind of what you expect against McAlester, right? It’s never going to be something simple and easy. There’s always going to be something going on, and it was no different today,” Ada head coach Chris Berus said following the game. “It was typical Ada-McAlester. We love to win, and we’ll take it every time.”

First-year MHS head coach Forrest Mazey, who played high school football at Coalgate, thought his Buffaloes should have come out on top.

“I don’t think the better team won tonight,” Mazey told the McAlester News-Capital. “I don’t think we paid attention to all the details.”

  Ada led 31-20 at halftime and all but put the game out of reach on a long, time-consuming scoring drive to start the third quarter. The Cougars marched 65 yards in 11 plays and had milked the clock down to the 5:46 mark when quarterback Jake Shannon turned a busted play — he turned to hand the ball off to his left, and running back Tyler Peters went to his right — into a nifty 6-yard TD keeper on third down.

After McAlester jumped offsides on the PAT try, the Cougars got a two-point rush from Shannon to expand their lead to 39-20.

It could have been worse for McAlester. Early in the fourth quarter, Ada senior defensive lineman Jaycob Gray made the biggest play of the game that didn’t lead to points.

With the Buffaloes facing third and long, Gray made a nice one-handed grab of a tipped pass by MHS quarterback Chris Hilton for an interception, rumbled down the field and broke some tackles before finally being stopped at the MHS 3-yard line.

However, after a series of ugly penalties, the Cougars went from a 1st-and-goal situation to 2nd-and-49 from the MHS 43. Ada would have to punt the ball away, despite Gray’s big play.

Berus said his squad has to start cleaning up the penalties. The Cougars were flagged 16 times for 144 yards, and several of them were unsportsmanlike conduct infractions.

“When you’re not at home ... you’ve got to expect things are not going to go your way. We have to improve on our response when things aren’t going our direction,” he said.

McAlester scored its only second-half touchdown on a 2-yard run by Hayden Franks with 4:48 remaining. A two-point try failed, leaving Ada on top 39-26

After Gray covered up an onside kick attempt by the hosts, the Cougars marched down the MHS 25. That drive was aided by a horsecollar penalty when Gavin Johnson sacked Shannon for a six-yard loss. On fourth down, Phillip Jones hit a line drive field goal from 41 yards out with 22.3 ticks left on the clock and put an exclamation point on the Ada victory.

Those three points also gave the Cougars the maximum 15 district points that could pay dividends later in the season.

“We were proud to be able to put that one through the uprights and give our kicker a little confidence rolling into the rest of the season. We got the points there at the end, which was huge,” Berus said. “We definitely persevered and showed improvement from one week to the next.”

The games featured several explosive plays in the first quarter.

McAlester pinned Ada deep with a nice punt from Hilton. After a penalty and a sack, the Ada offense faced 3rd-and-18 from its own 1. Shannon took the snap, sidestepped a couple of McAlester defenders and heaved the ball from the end zone to receiver Bo Odom. The AHS speedster broke a tackle near the 40-yard line and then outraced everyone to the end zone for an incredible 99-yard touchdown catch and run. Jones nailed the PAT to give Ada a quick 7-0 lead at the 8:48 mark of the opening frame.

The lead vanished in a hurry.

Talented McAlester freshman Erik McCarty hauled in the ensuing kickoff near the 3-yard line and zig-zagged his way through the Ada defense for a 97-yard touchdown return. Hilton’s PAT kick tied the score at 7-7.

That tie didn’t last long, either.

On Ada’s next offensive play, a 26-yard catch by Odom was wiped out by a penalty — a sign of things to come. Peters then made the most of his first carry of the game, bursting through a nice hole created by the AHS offensive line and motoring 80 yards to paydirt. Another Jones PAT put Ada in front 14-7 with 7:51 left in the first period.

“We had a couple of big plays early. We had kids making plays. Jake — on that touchdown pass to Bo — had to avoid a couple of defenders and put the ball where it needed to be,” Berus said.

Back came McAlester.

The Buffaloes put together a seven-play, 81-yard drive that was capped by a 23-yard run by Franks that knotted the score at 14-all.

Ada’s next drive went nowhere, but a big 55-yard punt by Jones pinned McAlester deep. A fumbled snap put McAlester in a 3rd-and-28 situation from its own 5. A holding penalty in the end zone resulted in a safety that put Ada on top 16-14 at the 1:39 mark of the first period.

A big return of the ensuing free kick by Jarron Christian set up the visitors at the MHS 39.

Kohner Gallagher rushed for 27 yards on the first play and later scored on a 5-yard run. After another extra point by Jones, Ada led 23-14 after a wild first quarter. Thanks mostly to that frenzied period, the first half lasted nearly 90 minutes.

“It was a long, long first half. But when you’re putting up points like that, you’ll take it every time,” Berus said.

The first-half fireworks weren’t over.

The Buffaloes put together an eight-play, 75-yard drive on their first possession of the second period. The big play was a 32-yard pass from Hilton to receiver Luke Homer. Hilton finished it with a 5-yard TD keeper. Christian blocked the PAT attempt by Hilton, but McAlester had trimmed the Ada advantage to 23-20 at the 8:39 mark.

Esaie Beam gave Ada good field position with a 26-yard return that set the Cougars up near midfield.

Ada needed seven plays to reach paydirt. Zac Carroll rushed for 17 yards to get the Cougars close, and Gallagher crashed into the end zone from the 4. The drive was kept alive by a roughing-the-passer penalty. Shannon scored on a two-point run followed by a McAlester offsides infraction to boost the Cougar lead to 31-20 and end the first-half scoring.

Will Bailey gave the locals one final chance to score after his fumble recovery that resulted in a 16-yard loss by Hilton.

Shannon tried to connect with Odom with time running out, but McAlester was flagged for pass interference. Berus then opted to send Jones out for a 51-yard field goal attempt — into the wind — with no time on the clock. The big boot was on target but fell a few yards short, leaving Ada with an 11-point halftime edge.

Ada piled up over 300 yards of total offense (199 on the ground and 102 through the air).

“Moving the football like we did starts up front,” Berus said.

Peters went over the century mark again, finishing with 11 totes for 110 yards. Gallagher added 50 yards on eight carries.

Hilton rushed for 113 yards and completed 8-of-18 passes for 95 more.

The Cougars didn’t have a turnover for the first time this season. Dominick Lowry and Braden Maloy finished with a game-high seven tackles for Ada, while Bailey added six stops.

Ada hits the road again Friday night at Glenpool. The Warriors (2-3, 1-1) defeated Tulsa Hale 22-0 in Week 5.

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