By Mike Tupa
Bixby High School didn’t do any one thing particularly well Thursday night against the Bruins of Bartlesville High.
The Bixby Spartans pretty much did everything well in the 61-14 victory in District 6A-II-2 football action.
But, the Bruins provided their Custer Stadium fans several minutes of excitement during a thunderous third quarter rally.
The loss dropped the Bruins (1-6) to 1-3 in district; Bixby improved to 7-0, 4-0.
By halftime, Bixby had built a 47-0 lead — the biggest halftime deficit Bartlesville has faced during this challenging season.
But, the Bruins emerged from halftime re-energized, refocused and revved up.
While it is true Bixby had pulled some of its starters, especially on the offensive side, the Bruins still fanned a fire they had struggled to kindle in the opening half.
Bixby received the second-half kickoff — but ended up punting, thanks to a handful of big Bruin defensive plays.
Bartlesville started its first third-quarter drive on the 15-yard line and pushed the ball 85-yards for the score.
The play began with pass completions by quarterback Ben Winters to Caden Davis and Caleb Perry for 13 and nine yards, respectively. Three plays later, Winters zipped the ball to Perry for another nine-yard gain. That was only a warmup.
Off the next snap, Perry hauled in a reception and streaked 50 yards, all the way to the Bixby four-yard line, before he was tackled.
Winters capped the drive with a one-yard plunge for a touchdown. Dylan McCoy nailed the extra point.
The Spartans got the ball back — but fumbled it away on 1st-and-10, with Davis recovering it at the Bixby 49-yard line.
Winters then hit Seth Long with a short pass and Long turned it into a 33-yard gainer down to the 16-yard line.
On the next play, Bruin tailback Laken Clowdus weaved through the defensive interference to score standing up. McCoy’s PAT pulled the Bruins to within 33, 47-14. Still a mammoth deficit, but at least Bartlesville was headed in the right direction.
The next Bixby possession started off with another Bruin statement as linebacker Rocky Shuman blocked a pass in the backfield.
Bixby also ended up punting on that possession, thanks largely to a big tackle by Jakob Hammack.
Bartlesville started its third possession of the half on its 47-yard line. On first down, Clowdus swept to the left and rumbled 19 yards to the Spartan 34-yard line.
But two plays shortly after turned the tide back to Bixby.
The first was when the Bruins failed to pick up first down on 4th-and-1 at the Bixby 25-yard line. The next occurred when Bixby took possession and the snap was over the quarterback’s head. The quarterback hustled back to pick up the ball, avoided a tackle for a massive loss, and managed to book up the left sideline for an eight-yard gain.
That keyed Bixby’s first touchdown drive of the second half.
The Bruins never quite got back on track after that, partly due to the injury losses of stalwarts Shane Simpson and Taton Hopkins.
Clowdus fought, scrapped and butted ahead for more than 80 yards — one of the few times this season he has been held to fewer than 100.
Winters passed for nearly 300 yards, while completing 17 passes.
Perry finished with a career night of 199 yards receiving on nine catches. Davis added 44 yards on five grabs.
For Bixby, starting quarterback Mason Williams flung the ‘skin for 166 yards and four touchdowns — two each to Brennan Presley and Luke Creeger. Presley also ran for more than 100 yards.
Next up, Bartlesville travels Friday to Ponca City in a key showdown for both squads as they try to remain in the playoff hunt.