By Mike Tupa
BARTLESVILLE — Howl sweet it was!
The roars and cheers exploded in invisible shards of energy that filled the dark sky with an incandescent excitement Friday night at Custer Stadium.
For five long — long, long, long, long — weeks, Bartlesville High School players, coaches and fans had suffered through a string of losses caused by improbable waves of bad luck for the Bruins.
But, on Friday night — blessed Friday night for the Bruins’ indiscourageable fans — Bartlesvillefinally broke through.
Energized by Laken Clowdus with more than 300 yards rushing — 105 of that in the first quarter alone — and four touchdowns, the Bruins blasted to their first season win, 54-34, against the Sand Springs Sandites.
And, it couldn’t have been a worse start for the Bruins (1-5, 1-2).
“I’m just pleased for our kids,” said first-year Bruin head coach Jason Sport. “It’s a great win for our community. We cleaned up some things that were holding us back.”
On the game’s very first play from scrimmage, Sand Springs quarterback Ty Pennington launched a towering missile to receiver Keaton Campbell — who had taken off on a fly pattern up the right side after the defensive backs had been distracted by flea flicker and let Campbell run free. On the play, Pennington handed the ball off, dropped back and then received a backward pitch by the running back.
Meanwhile, Campbell had gotten open downfield and Pennington delivered the perfect strike, which resulted in a 73-yard touchdown play.
That was just 22 seconds into the game — and the Bruins already trailed, 7-0.
Bartlesville bounced back with a 64-yard drive — with Clowdus running 59 yards of it on six carries — to score with 8:14 left in the first quarter. Dylan McCoy nailed the extra point to knot the score, 7-7.
But, disaster soon struck the Bruins again.
After they had moved the ball on their next possession inside the red zone, Darren Hawkins intercepted Winters. Hawkins jumped the route at the 16-yard line and surged up the right sideline for the 84-yard return and a 14-7 lead with 5:08 to go in the opening period.
But, the Sandites wouldn’t score again until the third quarter.
By that time, the Bruins would be in control.