Needless to day,
Down 26-0 at halftime to the Claremore High Zebras, the prognosis for a harvest of happiness for Bartlesville appeared unlikely.
But, then the miracle comeback thrust.
Bartlesville thundered to four touchdowns during a 10:28 stretch in the second half -- two of the scores coming within 10 seconds -- to trail by only five points, 33-28.
The Bruins then got the ball back, with 3:38 left in the game, with a chance to go ahead.
But, Claremore intercepted a pass and nearly ran out the clock -- while tacking on an insurance touchdown -- to hold of for a 40-28 win.
First-year Bruin coach
"Tonight was not a state championship game or anything big," he said. "In the long run I think it will be great for our kids."
Give credit to the fans.
With their team trailing by almost four touchdowns at halftime -- and unrelenting, steamy humidity wrapping them up in a stifling blanket of discomfort -- many of them could have bolted to their cars and the comfort of air-conditioned living rooms.
Butt, instead, the vast majority remained.
They were richly rewarded.
It all started with
With Claremore facing 2nd-and-2 from its own 28-yard line, Zebra quarterback
Davis -- a junior defensive back for Bartlesville -- picked off the ball and rumbled 45 yards for the Bruins' first touchdown. During his thrilling runback -- which turned on the
"In the first half,
Even though Davis' thrilling return, and
Following the break-through score, the Bruin defense rose up and slapped down the Zebra offense, forcing a three-and-out. Linebacker
Even so, Bartlesville still started the drive at midfield, with 5:06 left in the third quarter.
Bartlesville needed only one play to score its second touchdown.
The Bruins lined up in split backs, with
Just prior to the snap, Bruin quarterback
After receiving the ball from the center, Winters turned and launched a missile to Long, who caught the ball in stride and motored up the right sideline for his first varsity touchdown as a Bruin.
McCoy's PAT narrow Claremore's lead to 12, 26-14, with 5:01 remaining in the third period.
That was two Bruin touchdowns in a span of 1:45.
Claremore got the ball back and went on a long drive that consumed 6:31 off the clock and took the game well into the fourth quarter.
Bartlesville made some outstanding defensive plays to slow the match, including three tackles for loss, two of them by
Claremore eventually got inside the Bruin 15-yard line.
But, on fourth-and-one, the Zebras attempted a power sweep and Shuman snuck through to flatten the ballcarrier for a two-yard loss.
That gritty play got the ball back to Bartlesville with 10:22 left in the game and still trailing by 12, 26-14.
The Bruin drive stalled however. On 4th-and-4, the Bruins tried to run for the first down off a fake punt. But, the Zebras blew up the play and tackled the punter for a small loss.
Claremore got the ball on the Bruin 21-yard line, with 8:33 left, and punched the ball into the end zone in one play. The extra point extended Claremore's lead back to 19, 33-14.
But, the Bruins still weren't quitting.
Starting their next drive on their 38-yard yard line -- with 8:18 schooling on the clock -- Bartlesville started out with four yards on a run by Clowdus. Winters then found
Following a Bruin penalty -- Bartlesville would be flagged for 99 yards on the night -- Winters rolled right, loaded up and found Perry on a parallel route for a touchdown. McCoy again nailed the extra point and Bartlesville closed the gap to 12 points, 33-21, with 6:56 left.
If necessity is the mother of invention, than desperation is the dad of creativity.
With time running out and down by two scores, Bartlesville decided to go for the onside kick. Kicker
On the first play, Simpson ran a vertical route up the left seam and Winters dropped a bomb right in his hands for the touchdown play, with 6:46 left -- just 10 seconds after Perry had scored.
McCoy's kick again split the uprights and the Bruins had stormed back from a 26-0 deficit to trail by only five points, 33-28.
Claremore had to punt on its next possession, thanks largely to two hustle plays by Bradford at linebacker, who had a tackle for loss and also brought down the quarterback on backside pursuit.
Bartlesville then got the ball back with 3:38 left, and near midfield.
But, on first down, Winters tried a quick pass to the middle -- only to have the ball end up in the hands of Claremore linebacker
Bartlesville got the ball back with 16 seconds left and got in three plays before the final buzzer sounded.
Simpson eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards (124) and Clowdus galloped for 54 yards rushing in the second half, while Winters threw for 196 yards for the night.
Next up, the Bruins play host next Friday to Collinsville.
Some key stats
According to the E-E stats, Clowdus finished with 62 yards rushing on 16 carries. He came out in the second half with fire in his eye and powered to several impressive gains.
Simpson and Winters were the only other Bruins credited with a carry.
On the receiving end, Winters found three targets -- Perry, Simpson and Long.
As mentioned, Simpson hauled in three catches for 124 yards, followed by Perry with two for 22 and Long with one for 50.
Penalties proved to be very irksome for Bartlesville, which was flagged for 99 yards worth, split about evenly the two halves.
Winters completed 6-of-17 passes for 196 yards and had won interception.
The Bruins will cruise back into practice this week to get ready for Collinsville.
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